Blue Jackets return to the ice vs. first-place Sharks

The Columbus Blue Jackets looked liked a tired club in place San Jose Sharks.

Against the Capitals on Saturday, the Blue Jackets took a 2-0 lead into the third period thanks to goals from John Moore and Samuel Pahlsson, but watched Washington score four times in the frame to deal Columbus a 4-2 defeat.

Steve Mason gave up four goals on 26 shots as Columbus fell back into the loss after snapping a six-game slide with a win over Dallas a week ago.

"It's awfully frustrating because we played great for two periods, but we looked like a tired hockey club in the third," said Columbus head coach Scott Arniel. "We've worked on staying aggressive and doing the right things and tonight we didn't do that."

After a rest, the Blue Jackets begin a four-game trip that includes trips to San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim before wrapping the swing in Chicago on Jan. 10. Columbus is just 4-12-2 as the visiting club this year.

The Blue Jackets face a tough challenge tonight in the Sharks, who jumped into first place in the Pacific Division last night with a 3-1 victory over the Ducks. Antti Niemi made 16 of his 26 saves in the third period as San Jose recorded a point for the ninth time in 10 games (6-1-3).

Brad Winchester and Benn Ferriero scored 27 seconds apart in the second period and Joe Pavelski added an insurance marker as the Sharks jumped a point ahead of the Kings for first place in the division.

"I'd like to think our guys are beginning to believe us as coaches, that three is our number," San Jose head coach Todd McLellan said. "We have to work both offensively and defensively towards that, that every play is important on both sides of the puck. When guys believe that and buy into that they tend to play more consistent."

The Sharks and Blue Jackets are meeting for the first time in 2010-11 after splitting a pair of matchups a season ago. San Jose has won 10 of the past 15 encounters in this series and had won 11 in a row at home over Columbus before a 3-0 Blue Jackets victory on Nov. 20 of last year.