SAN JOSE, Calif. -- In a game with major playoff implications, Ryan Johansen scored at 18:23 of the third period following a Joe Pavelski turnover to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
Columbus (22-17-7), in search of its second playoff appearance in franchise history and first since 2008-09, picked up two points to increase its lead to three points over the Detroit Red Wings for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Blue Jackets cap their six-game road trip on Thursday in Dallas before hosting Nashville on Saturday in the regular-season finale.
The Sharks could have clinched a playoff berth with a win or overtime loss against Columbus. They sit in fifth in the Western Conference standings and finish a four-game homestand on Tuesday against Dallas before finishing on the road in Phoenix on Wednesday and Los Angeles on Saturday.
Before his costly late-game turnover on Sunday, Pavelski's 15th goal of the season -- a power-play tally at 14:57 -- tied the game at 3-3. Jack Johnson's interference penalty on Pavelski gave San Jose only its second 5-on-4 in the game.
Andrew Desjardins pulled the Sharks to within one goal early in the third period on a strong individual effort. He caught Johnson flat-footed on the entry, delayed to force defenseman Dalton Prout to overskate the play at the goal line, and outweighted goalie Sergie Bobrovsky to score his second of the season at 6:34.
The Blue Jackets snapped a drought on the power play and scored at even-strength to take a 3-1 lead into the second-period intermission.
San Jose defenseman Brad Stuart turned the puck at center, allowing Mark Letestu to spring Vinny Prospal on a breakaway goal at 4:27 and a 2-0 lead for Columbus.
The Sharks struck back at 7:14 when Logan Couture found Martin Havlat in front for his eighth goal of the season and third in two games.
But the Blue Jackets made Matt Irwin pay for an interference penalty as Letestu scored his second of the game and 12th of the season at 12:52 with a shot from the left point that found a way through teammate Marian Gaborik battling Stuart in front of Sharks goalie Antti Niemi.
The Blue Jackets had 18 straight failed power plays over nine games and had converted only one in 25 chances over the previous 13 contests.
San Jose had three chances late. Andrew Desjardins was stopped in close by Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and Raffi Torres hit the far post a minute later with 3:05 remaining. Havlat overskated a rebound of a Couture shot on the final minute.
The Sharks had the majority of shots and scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes, but the Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead to the locker room at intermission.
Letestu scored redirected a Jack Johnson feed from the left circle between the legs of Niemi at 16:53. Letestu had a step on defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic on the play.
NOTES: Niemi made his 23rd straight start for San Jose on Sunday. He has not been idle since March 6. ... San Jose forward Patrick Marleau had one goal in his previous 12 games before Sunday. ... San Jose coach Todd McLellan termed defenseman Jason Demers "banged up" and played veteran Scott Hannan for just the second time since his deadline-day acquisition. Forwards James Sheppard, Tim Kennedy and defenseman Matt Tennyson were healthy scratches. ... Defenseman David Savard was Columbus' lone healthy scratch as forwards Matt Calvert, Artem Anisimov and defenseman Nikita Nikitin remain out with injuries.
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