Columbus Blue Jackets vs. San Jose Sharks Pick & Prediction MARCH 16th 2024

With each at the bottom of the conference standings, generating some late-season momentum would be ideal for the Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks.

Both look to rebound from their latest defeat when they meet in Columbus on Saturday.

The Blue Jackets are last in the Eastern Conference with 55 points, while out in the West, San Jose’s 39 are a league low.

The Blue Jackets have been outscored 8-3 during their current 0-2-1 rut that came after winning three of four. Columbus led 2-0 early in the third period Thursday before allowing visiting Ottawa to score twice in regulation, then ultimately falling 3-2 in a shootout.

“We have to keep working on playing with leads and try to keep attacking,” said Columbus star Johnny Gaudreau, who snapped a three-game point drought with two assists on Thursday.

Gaudreau also recorded two assists during the Blue Jackets’ 4-3 win at San Jose on Feb. 17. Touted rookie Dmitri Voronkov scored one of his 17 goals in that contest, but he has managed just one point in his last nine games for Columbus, which has won the last three meetings against the Sharks.

That February result began San Jose’s current 1-9-2 rut, during which it has allowed 56 goals. The Sharks were locked at 3-3 at Pittsburgh on Thursday before allowing three third-period goals en route to a 6-3 defeat.

Prior to that loss, San Jose dropped its previous three road games by one goal apiece. The Sharks have just six wins in 33 road games this season.

“There’s been a lot of these games where we go to the third period tied and then they get their goal or two goals and we’re behind,” said San Jose forward Mikael Granlund, who has four goals and nine assists in his last 13 games.

“There are a lot of things we can grow at. We would like to get the better result.”

The Sharks’ Magnus Chrona (4.43 goals against average) stopped 25 of 30 shots against the Penguins while making his sixth career start. With the recently acquired Vitek Vanecek reportedly in danger of missing the rest of the season with a lower-body issue and Mackenzie Blackwood (groin) not yet ready to return from his injury, Chrona could continue to see the bulk of the work in the Sharks’ net going forward.

Meanwhile, Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins (3.25 goals-against average) stopped 35 of 37 shots against the Senators on Thursday. He made 28 saves at San Jose last month. Teammate Daniil Tarasov has a 2.42 goals-against average while going 3-3 in his last six starts.

With a goal against the Senators, Columbus’ Alexander Nylander has six goals and two assists in 10 games since he was acquired from Pittsburgh last month.

“He’s doing a great job with our team, and he fits in perfectly with us,” Gaudreau said of Nylander, who is on his fourth team in six NHL seasons.

Amid a career season with 17 goals and 31 points, San Jose’s Fabian Zetterlund has scored twice and added four assists during his last five contests.

–Field Level Media

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