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
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
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.
* 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.
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.