(SportsNetwork.com) – The Montreal Canadiens attempt to begin a four-game road
trip with their first victory in San Jose in over 15 years on Monday night as
they visit the struggling Sharks.
The Canadiens are riding a four-game winning streak ahead of this trip out
west and lead the Atlantic Division by five points over the Tampa Bay
Lightning. They defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-0 last time out on Saturday
thanks to another stellar effort by MVP candidate Carey Price.
Price made 30 saves to post his sixth shutout of the season and 31st of his
career. He tops the NHL with 36 wins, a 1.88 goals against average and a .936
David Desharnais scored twice, while Manny Malhotra and Tomas Plekanec also
lit the lamp in the win, which featured the return of defenseman Sergei
Gonchar following a six-game absence with an upper-body injury.
“He works hard, does many things well and it finally paid off for him,”
Montreal head coach Michel Therrien said of Malhotra, who picked up his first
goal since April 13 of last year.
Montreal’s blue line will see more change in the coming days after the club
acquired defenseman Jeff Petry from the Edmonton Oilers on Monday morning in
exchange for a 2015 second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick.
The 27-year-old Petry had four goals and 11 assists in 59 games with the
Oilers this season, logging nearly 21 minutes of ice time per game. He’ll help
fill the void left by the injured Alexei Emelin, out with an upper-body
Price, meanwhile, will try to reverse his previous luck versus the Sharks as
he is just 1-3-1 in this matchup with a 2.98 goals against average and .919
save percentage in five starts.
The Canadiens have lost seven straight trips to San Jose, where they have not
won since Nov. 23, 1999.
The Sharks outscored the Canadiens 6-0 in winning both meetings last season
and have claimed three in a row and eight of the previous 11 encounters
San Jose’s home winning streak in this series will be put to the test tonight
as the club has dropped each of its past eight games as the host overall. That
includes a 4-2 setback to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and the Sharks wrap
a four-game homestand tonight before visiting the Vancouver Canucks on
Antti Niemi made 27 saves, and Tommy Wingels and Patrick Marleau scored
against the Sens for the Sharks, who have not won at home since Jan. 31 and
went just 3-8-2 in February.
“When you get up on a team you have to pile it on,” Wingels said. “I don’t
know if it’s the killer instinct we lack or if we don’t know how to play with
a lead. It’s frustrating.”
As a result, the Sharks are five points out of a wild card spot and also trail
the third-place Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division
by two points.
Niemi is 3-1-0 with a 1.48 GAA, .940 save percentage and two shutouts in four
career meetings with the Habs, while backup Alex Stalock has never faced them.
San Jose traded forward James Sheppard to the New York Rangers on Sunday for a