SAN JOSE -- After a couple days of somber news, the Sharks were smiling again Thursday night after finishing off a 3-1 win over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets at SAP Center.
Following a scoreless first period, San Jose (20-22-4) broke things open with two straight goals to start the second. The Sharks' power-play continued to stay hot, and Aaron Dell had an answer whenever the Blue Jackets (21-16-8) appeared to seize some momentum, finishing with 29 saves on 30 shots.
The two points will prove helpful as San Jose attempts to climb back in the playoff race, and should provide some confidence after losing Logan Couture to injury for several weeks.
Here are the takeaways from the much-needed victory:
The Sharks have experienced some terrible luck and timing ever since signing Erik Karlsson to an eight-year contract extension in the offseason, but the fact that San Jose is having a down season certainly is not a reflection on him or that decision. If you're lucky enough to acquire a player of Karlsson's caliber, you do not let him get away. His perfomance against the Blue Jackets was further proof as to why.
Karlsson set up each of San Jose's first two goals. He didn't get an assist on the first one, but without his slick pass to Evander Kane away from the movement of the defense, the puck never ends up in front of Columbus' crease for Kevin Labanc to punch it in. Karlsson wasn't kept off the scoresheet much longer, however, as he got the primary assist on Joe Thornton's power-play goal midway through the second period after waiting out the defense and setting up Thornton with an open lane to the net.
Those were two phenomenal setups, and the kind we've come to take for granted from Karlsson since he makes those special plays so often.
Burns redeems himself
Brent Burns must have been paying close attention to Karlsson, because he came up with a perfect setup of his own. The only problem was, it was to the wrong team. Late in the second period, Burns had a terrible giveaway in the defensive zone, and in the blink of an eye, the puck was in the back of San Jose's net.
Burns can be somewhat of a double-edged sword, though, and both sides were on display against Columbus. Just over two minutes into the third period, Burns erased his previous mistake, as he found himself in the right place at the right time, scoring off a backhand to put the Sharks up 3-1 after meandering around the offensive zone.
The giveaway was bad. Real bad. But with Burns, sometimes you have to take the bad with the good.
Don't mess with Dillon
Brenden Dillon continues to make himself an attractive trade candidate.
The Sharks would love to keep him, but with their postseason hopes already looking grim before Couture went down with a fractured ankle, general manager Doug Wilson might have to make some tough decisions. Dillon plays a tremendously physical style -- the kind that is required to succeed come playoff time -- and he is expected to garner plenty of interest from other teams.
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Dillon was solid once again Thursday against the Jackets, but arguably his most important contribution came in the form of his typical physical play. When Columbus captain Nick Foligno took a run at Labanc a few minutes after Burns' goal, Dillon immediately came to the defense of his teammate and fought Foligno.
Dillon got plenty of stick taps from the Sharks' bench following the tussle, and you can be sure GMs around the league approved of his actions as well.