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Losing streak finally ends
Mackenzie Blackwood leads SJ to 3-2 win in Montreal
1/11/2024 - By Mike Lee

The results haven't been what goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood had hoped for this season. Entering play on Thursday night in Montreal, Blackwood had lost all 10 games he has started on the road this season. End put that streak to bed with a gritty performance in a 3-2 Sharks win at the Bell Centre. Blackwood made 33 saves in the first Sharks win since December 12th.

The Canadiens were at the disadvantage of having played in Philadelphia on Wednesday night, then having to fly home following a 3-2 shootout loss. The Sharks used that to their advantage in a big 2nd period, where they controlled the ice for a full 20 minutes.

The Sharks drew first blood 5:19 into the contest when Luke Kunin pounced on an errant pass by Canadiens defenseman Jayden Struble who was pressured by Justin Bailey in the right corner. The pass floated to the front of the net where Kunin chipped at the puck to beat goaltender Sam Montembeault.

Josh Anderson gave the Sharks a scare when he walked in on Blackwood all by himself on a breakaway chance at the 14 minute mark. Blackwood denied the Canadiens winger to keep the Sharks lead intact.

Fabian Zetterlund pushed the lead to 2-goals at 17:25 when he converted his 12th goal of the season. Tomas Hertl skated the puck behind the Canadiens net, then sent a backhand pass out front to his linemate for a one-time chance. Zetterlund lifted the shot, snapping it over Montembeault to provide the Sharks with some much needed breathing room.

The cushion lasted all of 21 seconds after Brendan Gallagher one timed a shot from the slot after an unimpeded Mike Matheson carried the puck up the right wing before sliding it to Gallagher. The Sharks made the response too easy, allowing Matheson so much room, but they also had a chance to get a stick or body on Gallagher.

The Sharks took advantage of the fact that Montreal played 24 hours earlier in Philadelphia by combining a spirited tempo with some decent passing in the middle period. They would outshoot the Canadiens 17-9 in the period, but it was a 6 minute stretch in the back half of the frame that had San Jose .

Nikita Okhotiuk scored his 1st goal in teal at 16:44 of the period. The defenseman gathered a diagonal pass from Mikael Granlund as he pinched up the left side. Okhotiuk skated in on net and lifted a shot that squeezed between Montembeault and the left post to make it a 3-1 game.

The Sharks had a meaty opportunity midway through the 3rd period when Jesse Ylonen was sent off for interference, following offsetting roughing minors to Jan Rutta and Anderson. San Jose promptly gave up a shorthanded breakaway chance to Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki, but Blackwood saved the day with a toe save. William Eklund then countered on a 2-on-1 chance, but Montembeault held serve as well.

Canadiens head coach Marti St Louis pulled Montembleaut with 5 minutes left in regulation to try and claw back into the game. They would convert at 16:26 when Matheson ripped a shot from the blueline and using Anderson as a screen.

St Louis would pull Montembleaut with 2 minutes to play after Montreal established possession in the Sharks zone. Blackwood saved the day with a flurry of saves.

Game Notes:

* Defenseman Ty Emberson was a medical scratch after he aggravated an upper body injury in the loss to Toronto. Kyle Burroughs and Scott Sabourin were also scratched.

* With two defensive regulars in the press box, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Nikita Okhotiuk were inserted into the lineup. That paid dividends with Okhotiuk scoring his first goal as a Shark to push the Sharks lead to 2-goals in the middle period.

* Per Darin Stephens, Okhotiuk became the youngest Sharks defenseman to score in Montreal. The 23 year-old topped Mike Rathje's 21 year-old franchise mark.

* The Sharks have now won 8 straight in Montreal.

* San Jose won 31 of 57 draws for a 54% winning percentage. They couldn't use that advantage to take a faceoff in the critical final 5 minutes of the game, which allowed Montreal to keep the puck in the Sharks zone for felt like an eternity.


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 2 1 0 3
MTL 1 0 1 2
1st period - 1, SJ, Kunin 5 (unassisted), 5:19. 2, SJ, Zetterlund 12 (Hertl, Zadina), 17:25. 3, MTL, Gallagher 7 (Matheson, Savard), 17:46.
2nd period - 4, SJ, Okhotiuk 1 (Granlund, Eklund), 16:42.
3rd period - 5, MTL, Matheson 7 (Caufeld, Suzuki), 16:26.
Penalties
1st period - None.
2nd period - Harris, MTL (tripping), 5:02; Armia, MTL (high sticking), 18:18; Eklund, SJ (holding), 18:36.
3rd period - Rutta, SJ (roughing), 8:35; Anderson, MTL (roughing), 8:35; Ylonen, MTL (interference), 8:46.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Blackwood 35 33
MTL - Montembeault 35 32
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 7 17 11 35
MTL 11 9 15 35
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 3
MTL 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Mikael Granlund
Mike Matheson
Mackenzie Blackwood
Attendance
Bell Centre - 21,105
Officials
Referees: #27 Eric Furlatt, #22 Ghislain Hebert. Linesmen: #55 Kyle Flemington, #50 Scott Cherrey.





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