Seize the opportunity. That's what the Sharks had at their grasp tonight. They took advantage, but it was a challenge. San Jose defeated the Jackets 4-3 in a shootout that ties them with the Anaheim Ducks for first place in the Pacific Division.
Momentum in this game went back and forth as did the scoring. Ryan Johansen started the scoring at 5:28 with a quick wrist shot that went past Sharks netminder Alex Stalock. Nearly five and a half minutes later, Patrick Marleau, who was flying all game, got his first of two goals on the night with a tap in from a nice pass from Logan Couture. The game remained tied with the Sharks on a five on three power play and then RJ Umberger sneaks past the defense once he served his penalty to score shorthanded to make it 2-1 Columbus. It seemed the Sharks woes continued on the power play as they allowed a second short handed goal in as many games. Those two shorties were the same amount of power play goals the Sharks scored on the man advantage in 57 chances.
The game stayed 2-1 until 15 seconds into the third where Matt Nieto, starting to find his scoring touch, picked up a rare Sergei Bobrovsky rebound to tie the game. At 5:56, Marleau shoots his second goal in and ends one of the ugliest droughts on the power play with a wrist shot. It looked like a Sharks 3-2 victory was on it's way, but at 15:02, Columbus' James Wisniewski tied it with a slapper that Stalock just couldn't stop. Under 90 seconds left, Brent Burns took a bad tripping penalty, Stalock came up huge at the end of regulation with a diving stop to get one point for Team Teal.
Overtime went back and forth with chances, but a victor was not found until the shootout. Stalock stopped both Marc Letestu and Ryan Johansen. Joe Pavelski beat Bobrovsky with a backhander. And when Cam Atkinson missed the net, San Jose celebrated a hard fought 4-3 win and it's 43rd win of the season, it's 4th straight win. They're now 5-1-1 since the Olympic Break. While tied with Anaheim in points and overall victories, the Ducks have a game in hand and have a 41-33 advantage in the first tiebreaker, Regulation-Overtime Wins (ROW). San Jose is on it's way to Long Island to battle the Islanders with a chance to hold first place by itself for at least a few hours. Sharks vs. Islanders begins at 4pm on CSN California and the Sharks Radio Network, while Anaheim will begin it's game with the Avalanche at 6pm. The playoff race gets better and better.