Sharks-Canadiens Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 25, 2013
The San Jose Sharks got off to the NHL's best start behind a high-powered offense, but goals have been hard to come by on the first two stops of a long trip. They'll try to re-ignite their scoring Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens, who are 10-2-0 with two ties in the all-time series at home while limiting the Sharks to 1.8 goals per game. San Jose (8-1-1) was the league's final team to suffer a regulation loss when it fell 2-1 at Boston on Thursday. David Krejci tipped in the winner with 0.8 seconds remaining against Antti Niemi, negating a 39-17 advantage in shots for the Sharks, including a 16-3 edge in the first period alone. "Their goalie played well tonight and made a lot of key saves for them," said Patrick Marleau, who scored his team-leading eighth goal. San Jose leads the league with an average shot differential of plus-15.6, twice as large as most teams' average margins. Montreal's average differential is minus-0.6. The Sharks were scoreless on 27 shots in a 1-0 shootout victory in Detroit on Monday after scoring on 12.1 percent of their shots through the first eight games. They had totaled 39 goals, including 11 on 44 power-play opportunities, but are scoreless on four chances to start a season high-tying five-game trip. Montreal has gone 2-2-0 on a season-high five-game homestand, bouncing back from consecutive defeats with a 4-1 win over Anaheim on Thursday. Tomas Plekanec, Michael Bournival, Brian Gionta and Rene Bourque scored to knock off former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu in what was perhaps his final game in Montreal. Plekanec has four goals and three assists in the last four games, and he's scored three times in five career matchups against San Jose. "We didn't let up," Gionta said after his team claimed a 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes. "We knew they were going to have a push. We absorbed it and kept the momentum." The Canadiens (6-4-0) had suffered their first back-to-back losses, the first of which - 2-1 against Nashville last Saturday - saw Brandon Prust and Daniel Briere suffer injuries. It's unclear when Briere (concussion) will return, while Prust (shoulder) isn't expected to be back until next month along with Max Pacioretty (hamstring). Bournival's emergence has helped neutralize those absences, with Thursday's goal marking his second of the season. The 21-year-old rookie has five points in his last four games and owns a plus-5 rating on the season after not registering a point through his first three contests. "The more he plays, the more confidence we have in his play," coach Michel Therrien said. "He's creating good plays with his intensity and his speed. He skates really well. He competes." Neither team's top goaltender has been particularly successful against the other squad. Carey Price is 1-2-1 with a 3.22 goals-against average in four starts versus San Jose, and Niemi split two matchups with the Canadiens while recording an .882 save percentage.
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