SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin made sure the Columbus Blue Jackets didn’t blow another lead and got to head home from the California swing on a winning note.
Artemi Panarin scored two goals, including an empty-netter to seal the win, and Bobrovsky made 34 saves to thwart a comeback attempt by San Jose as the Blue Jackets beat the Sharks 4-2 on Sunday night.
“We found a way to get it done,” captain Nick Foligno said. “That’s what we need to do this time of year. I hope guys feel good about themselves that they can win these tight ones and it has to carry on to the next 16 games.”
Foligno and Sonny Milano got Columbus started with first-period goals to help the Blue Jackets salvage the final game of their three-game trip to remain a point ahead of Florida for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Blue Jackets had scored first in Los Angeles and Anaheim to start this trip before losing both games. They nearly blew a 3-0 lead against the Sharks but Bobrovsky made a sliding save on a deflection by Joe Pavelski to keep it 3-2 and Panarin scored his 20th goal into the empty net to seal the win.
“They’re a tough team because they’re so many deflections around the goal,” coach John Tortorella said. “The save Bob makes on Joe Pavelski. That’s a set play with him and (Brent) Burns. They’ve played together for so long. They’re tough to stop.”
Evander Kane scored his first goal since joining the Sharks and Joonas Donskoi also scored but San Jose was unable to erase a three-goal deficit.
Martin Jones allowed three goals on 11 shots before being pulled early in the second period and the Sharks went a 12th straight game without a power-play goal, extending their drought to 28 chances.
“Sometimes you have to give the goalie on the other team some credit,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “We generated some really quality chances on the power play and sometimes we missed the net and he made some really good saves.”
The Sharks fell behind 3-0 early in the second when Panarin deflected Ian Cole’s point shot into the net to end Jones’ night. The Blue Jackets limited San Jose’s chances after that as they kept control of the game until a broken play late in the second gave the Sharks life.
Kane’s pass was deflected right to Dylan DeMelo at the point. DeMelo fired the puck toward the net and Donskoi deflected it past Bobrovsky to make it 3-1.
Kane then scored midway through the third, giving him five points in three games with San Jose. But the Sharks were unable to get the equalizer against Bobrovsky.
“You get down by three goals, it’s tough to come back,” Kane said. “We came up a little short. Late in the second period we started breaking down their defense and getting pucks to the net. We need to start doing that earlier.”
The Blue Jackets bounced back from losses at Los Angeles and Anaheim by getting off to a fast start in San Jose despite being short-handed for six minutes in the opening period.
The Sharks failed to convert any of those chances into goals with Bobrovsky’s glove save on a deflection by Pavelski the best chance as their power-play drought extended to 27.
Columbus then scored seconds after the first penalty ended with Foligno beating Jones with a wrist shot to make it 1-0.
The Blue Jackets added another goal less than a minute after killing a third penalty when Marc-Edouard Vlasic misplayed the puck at the blue line and Boone Jenner fed Milano on the 2-on-1 for the goal.
NOTES: Aaron Dell stopped all 16 shots he faced in place of Jones. … Sharks C Eric Fehr returned to the lineup after missing one game and Marcus Sorensen was scratched. … Blue Jackets C Alexander Wennberg also returned after missing one game in place of Lukas Sedlak.
Blue Jackets: Host Vegas on Tuesday night.
Sharks: Host St. Louis on Thursday night.
More AP NHL: apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey