It's been a tale of two months for the San Jose Sharks in 2013.
On Monday, the sliding Sharks hope to recapture some of their January magic when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
The Sharks opened the season with a 7-0 record in January, but the new month finds San Jose searching for answers. The club is 0-2-2 in February and has managed a total of five goals during that stretch.
San Jose was shut out for the first time this season in its last trip to the ice, losing a 1-0 shootout decision Saturday at Phoenix. Mikkel Boedker scored the winner in the decisive phase after the teams played scoreless hockey for 65 minutes.
After Michal Handzus was stopped by Mike Smith, Boedker skated in on net and faked to the backhand before lifting it over a sprawled-out Antti Niemi. Smith then kept out James Sheppard's wrister before Radim Vrbata sealed the win by beating Niemi with the same fake and shot as Boedker.
Niemi made 21 stops for his 20th career shutout and first of the season for the Sharks.
"He likes to play deep in the net and he was catching everything," Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said of Smith. "He was grabbing pucks out of the air. He played great."
Sharks forward Patrick Marleau was once again noticeably absent from the scoresheet. He has been held without a point over the last five games after recording an amazing nine goals and five assists in his first six outings of the season.
San Jose starts a six-game road trip on Monday and is 2-1-0 as the visiting club this season.
At 3-7-2 on the season, the Blue Jackets are tied with three other teams at the bottom of the Western Conference. Columbus enter Monday's contest having lost three straight and five of its last six games.
The Blue Jackets hosted Edmonton on Sunday and were dealt a 3-1 setback. The score was tied at 1-1 heading into the final minute of regulation but late scored by Magnus Paajarvi and Sam Gagner allowed the Oilers to claim two points at Nationwide Arena.
Paajarvi scored on a one-timer with 3:10 left to put Edmonton ahead and Gagner sealed the win with an empty-net goal.
R.J. Umberger picked up the lone score for the Blue Jackets, while Sergei Bobrovsky allowed two goals on 13 shots in defeat.
"We just gave them a couple of goals that we shouldn't have," Umberger said. "It doesn't matter how well you played. It's the two points that matter."
The Blue Jackets have managed one win (1-3-1) on a six-game homestand that ends against the Sharks. Columbus is just 2-4-2 as the host this season.
The Sharks won three of four against Columbus in 2011-12 and have claimed six of nine in this series overall. The Blue Jackets do have wins in four of the last seven encounters at Nationwide Arena.