COLUMBUS — Sergei Bobrovsky picked up his fourth career shutout — all in his last 15 games — and newcomer Marian Gaborik had a goal and an assist tonight, leading the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-0 win over the San Jose Sharks.
Matt Calvert, James Wisniewski and Ryan Johansen also scored for the Blue Jackets, who had lost their last two games.
Bobrovsky didn't have a shutout in his first 98 NHL appearances. He has put up a brick wall in front of the net since Columbus went on a late tear to rise from last in the league to contention for a playoff spot. He made 30 saves, including stopping Patrick Marleau's point-blank wrister in the third period and Dan Boyle's hard, power-play slap shot in the second.
The game was crucial for both teams, but particularly the Blue Jackets, who began the night in a tie for 10th in the West, four points behind eighth-place Detroit. San Jose came in fifth in the West with 47 points, but just seven points from falling out of the race.
The Blue Jackets have gotten points in 17 of their last 21 games (12-4-5). They had a four-game home winning streak ended Sunday night by Minnesota, 3-0. That defeat also snapped a club-record 12-game points streak at home (9-0-3).
The Sharks were coming off a seven-game homestand on which they picked up 13 of 14 possible points, losing in overtime to Dallas on Sunday before hitting the road. The game today opened a four-game swing that will also take them to Detroit, Dallas and Phoenix.
Columbus had been manhandled in the second period 48 hours earlier by Minnesota, but this time it was the Blue Jackets who took charge. Up 1-0, they had 11 of the first 12 shots while scoring twice.
Wisniewski made it 2-0 just 3:09 in, taking a pass from defense partner Adrian Aucoin to blast a rising one-timer past Antti Niemi from the middle of the blue line.
Less than 2 minutes later, Gaborik, playing his second home game for the Blue Jackets, set up Johansen to make it 3-0.
Gaborik was being guarded by two Sharks in the right circle when he slid a backhand pass to Johansen in the slot. He went down to one knee on the one-timer high into the net.
Late in the period, TJ Galiardi, trailing the play, rammed into Bobrovsky and flattened him. The goalie was attended to by a trainer before getting a standing ovation as he rose to his skates.
Gaborik benefited from a perfect setup from Artem Anisimov, a former teammate with the Rangers, in the third period. Skating behind the Sharks defense, Gaborik took the pass, faked Niemi to the ice with a forehand and then tapped in the puck with a backhand.
The hard work of the Blue Jackets' third line supplied the first goal, keeping the puck in the offensive zone. Late in a long shift, Mark Letestu passed around the back boards to Cam Atkinson, whose wraparound attempt was deflected by the stick of Niemi. But Calvert was right there to take the puck off Niemi's stick and jam in his eighth goal.
San Jose's Adam Burish scored with 5:21 left in the third with a blind swat at the puck from his knees. but the goal was instantly waved off because he was in the crease.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic's shot in the final minutes clanged off the far post, preserving the shutout.
NOTES: Columbus LW Vinny Prospal played in his 1,100th NHL game and D Jack Johnson in his 400th. ... San Jose plays five of its last nine games at home, while just two of the Blue Jackets' final eight are at Nationwide Arena. ... Columbus has outscored the Sharks 10-2 in two meetings this year, both at home, including a 6-2 rout on Feb. 11. The teams meet again April 21 in San Jose.
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