Toskala wins 12th straight; Sharks blank Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The hottest goaltender to start the NHL
season is also a guy who was among the hottest at the end of last

Vesa Toskala ran his winning streak to 12 games with his fifth
career shutout in the San Jose Sharks' 3-0 victory over the
Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night.

"A shutout is nice, but the most important thing is to get
those two points," Toskala said.

Steve Bernier, Jonathan Cheechoo and Marcel Goc each had goals
for the Sharks.

Toskala is 5-0-0 this season while allowing just under two goals
a game with a .926 save percentage. The 12-game winning streak is
the longest in Sharks history. He has also won his last eight
starts on the road.

"I feel comfortable on the ice," Toskala said. "It always
feels good after you get a couple of good saves. I saw the puck
well. Our defensemen blocked so many shots, and that really helps a
goalie a lot."

Toskala had plenty of help, but was solid when Columbus did get
off a shot.

"We played good team defense all the way around," defenseman
Scott Hannan said. "When we needed him, Ves was there to stop

Columbus has lost four consecutive games while being outscored

"San Jose is a good hockey team, but there is no reason for
that to happen to us," Blue Jackets coach Gerard Gallant said.
"They made us look bad out there. They embarrassed us."

The Sharks were 2-for-8 on the power play while Columbus failed
to score on seven chances with a man-advantage.

"It [defense] was really good, in particular our
penalty-killing," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "We limited their
opportunities and we might actually have had more opportunities
killing penalties than they did on their power play."

Toskala, who stopped 23 shots, had all the support he needed
just 2½ minutes in.

On the power play after Jason Chimera was called for holding,
the Sharks surrounded Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire. Bernier
controlled the puck while skating behind the net and centered it to
Milan Michalek, whose shot was stopped. Matt Carle picked up the
rebound and Leclaire left the net to cut down his angle. With
Leclaire unable to get back, Bernier was on the doorstep when he
got the puck with an unguarded net in front of him.

San Jose defenseman Josh Gorges was tripped while swooping in on
the Columbus goal by defenseman Ron Hainsey early in the second
period. Gorges slid hard into the corner boards on his left
shoulder and needed assistance getting off the ice, although he
later returned.

Not long after that, the Sharks put the game out of reach with
two quick goals.

First Cheechoo notched his fifth goal, putting a power-play shot
just inside the back post at the 3:15 mark after setup passes from
Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

"One of the keys early on was getting the puck deep and putting
pressure on their defense, allowing us to get some chances,"
Cheechoo said. "When the puck's in deep, it's hard for them. Our
defense did a great job of standing up to them and protecting the
front of the net."

Less than 2 minutes later Goc, who had twice come close to
scoring, picked up his first of the season when he chopped in the
rebound after Marc-Edouard Vlasic's shot from the right point.
Vlasic, a promising 19-year-old defenseman, learned earlier in the
day that general manager Doug Wilson was keeping him with the big
club rather than sending him back to his junior team in Quebec.

The Blue Jackets were booed several times while mustering just
four shots in the second period.

"We have to loosen up a bit and grind these games out and try
not to do too much," captain Adam Foote said. "We need to stick
together and we'll come out of it together."

Game notes
It was the first game of a five-game road trip for the
Sharks, their longest of the season. ... C Sergei Fedorov returned
after missing the first six Columbus games with a shoulder injury
suffered in a preseason game Sept. 19. ... The Blue Jackets came in
tied for eighth in the NHL on the power play (21.7 percent).