San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer remarked Tuesday night that opposing teams "are fighting for their lives already."
The Columbus Blue Jackets could be in that category in spite of a winning record.
Two teams coming off difficult defeats meet for the first time this season when San Jose takes on Columbus on Thursday night at SAP Center.
After a successful three-game road trip, San Jose (6-3-3) looked sluggish in a 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday. Tomas Hertl scored with 1.2 seconds left in regulation, but Martin Jones gave up the game-winner in the third round of the tiebreaker.
Though the Sharks have not lost in regulation in six straight games (4-0-2), DeBoer noted the club was fortunate to extend that streak.
"Found a way tonight, maybe on a night we didn't deserve it," he said, pointing out that the team didn't have great energy.
Sharks captain Joe Pavelski refused to blame Jones (5-3-1, 2.86 goals-against average) for the club's second shootout loss in three games.
"He kept us in it all night. Kept buying us time," Pavelski said. But Jones has been pulled early in two of three career starts against the Blue Jackets in Silicon Valley.
Aaron Dell (1-0-2, 2.59 GAA) has yet to play at home this season. He stopped all 14 shots faced in relief of Jones in a 4-2 loss to Columbus last March 4.
The Jackets, who are playing three games in four nights in California, are coming off Tuesday's 5-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Columbus (6-5-0) erased a three-goal deficit with three straight third-period goals before fading late.
Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson scored during the late flurry and told the Columbus Dispatch that the team cannot take any opponent lightly.
"Every team in this league is a good hockey team, and we've got to be ready to play. That's our job," said Anderson, who is tied with Cam Atkinson for the team lead with six goals.
The Blue Jackets are only two points out of the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, but that's because of a 3-1-0 road record and despite Sergei Bobrovsky not looking like a two-time Vezina Trophy winner.
Though he turned aside 23 of 24 shots in relief Tuesday, Bobrovsky has lost each of his last three appearances. And in his only road start this season, Bobrovsky allowed a career-worst eight goals to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 13.
Joonas Korpisalo stopped only four of seven shots against Detroit before being replaced. Though the Finn is 4-0-0 this season, his GAA is just under 4.00.
San Jose defenseman Erik Karlsson needs one assist to reach 400 for his career. Karlsson had a career-high four helpers against the Jackets on Oct. 14, 2015, while with the Ottawa Senators.
Columbus captain Nick Foligno said the team needs to keep it simple.
"When the game feels like you're fighting it, especially early on, go back to the basics -- hitting, winning your battles, skating," he told the team's official website.