When the Montreal Canadiens and San Jose Sharks met two weeks ago, all the talk surrounded the Habs’ remarkable run of futility in San Jose. The Tricolore did their utmost to break that streak, and while their play on the ice was deserving of a win, they came out one goal short on the scoreboard.
Tonight, they’ll try to accomplish what they couldn’t on their recent road trip.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet (English), RDS (French)
In the United States: CSN-CA
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecenter Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|52.75||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||52.12|
|1.58||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.09|
Things are a little different for the Canadiens now than they were a fortnight ago. Playing with Alex Radulov, among other factors, seems to have jump-started the production of Max Pacioretty. Those two were paired up as no more than a mid-game experiment in San Jose two weeks ago, but given that Alex Galchenyuk is unavailable to complete their line as he did briefly, it’s likely that no two Canadiens players will be more heavily relied upon to produce on offence tonight.
On defence, Mark Barberio and Greg Pateryn were excellent last time out, breezing through their limited exposure. While Barberio is back in the big leagues after a brief vacation to Binghamton, it remains to be seen if he or his erstwhile partner will see any ice tonight. With Nathan Beaulieu and Zach Redmond also vying for spots in the lineup, bottom pairing ice time is at a premium at the moment.
For the Sharks, things are about the same as they were when we last saw them. With 37 points, they continue to hold the lead in the Pacific Division, battling with the Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers for the top spot there while trailing the top three Central Division team for Western Conference supremacy.
The Sharks are projected to ice almost the same lineup as they did when they hosted the Habs, with one notable potential exception. Logan Couture took a nasty cross-check from Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman on Wednesday night, and the blow may leave him unable to suit up this evening. If that’s the case, look for the Sharks to shuffle their lines a little to make room for top prospect Timo Meier, freshly recalled from the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda. Meier has a strong scoring pedigree, but also big shoes to fill - Couture was one of his team’s most effective players when the Sharks beat the Habs last.
Likely starting goaltender Martin Jones was solid in that outing, losing his shutout bid only when Artturi Lehkonen beat him as the game wound down.
At the other end, the Canadiens and Carey Price did a pretty good job neutralizing the Sharks’ most notable forwards, but they seemed to have more difficulty keeping tabs on Brent Burns. Burns put eight shots on net in that game, including a laser of a one-timer on a first period powerplay to open the scoring. It may be easier said than done, but looking for ways to hold down one of the NHL’s premiere offensive defencemen should be a point of emphasis this evening.
Against a team as deep as the Sharks, the Habs will need to replicate the well-balanced effort that could easily have earned them a win on Monday night against Boston. And while it might not be the same as getting that long-awaited victory in Northern California, starting this weekend’s back-to-back with a win would probably feel pretty good.