For a while, it looked like this game might get out of hand.
The San Jose Sharks took a 2-0 lead midway through the first period while Steve Mason looked more than a little beleaguered. The third-year goalie got his game together, though, and the Blue Jackets scored two goals in 15 seconds to get back in the game at the end of the first frame.
Ultimately both Mason and new Sharks goalie Antti Niemi played solidly in this one. Niemi stopped 30 out of 32 shots while Mason put aside 25 out of 28.
The Sharks connected on 2 out of 6 power plays while the Blue Jackets on 1 out of 7 in a notably sloppy game. Torrey Mitchell, Joe Thornton and Logan Couture scored for the Sharks, with Couture scoring the game-winner on the power play. Kristian Huselius provided a spirited effort in this one, putting six shots on net while connecting with one power-play goal. R.J. Umberger scored the other Columbus goal in this one.
San Jose and Columbus play another game in Sweden on Saturday Night. It’ll be interesting to see if Niemi gets back-to-back starts or if the Sharks decide to run with a 1a/1b goalie rotation and start Antero Niittymaki. Much like when Minnesota produced an improved effort against Carolina in their second game, expect the Blue Jackets to play more desperate hockey Saturday night. If not, it will be a pretty depressing flight back for Columbus.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.