How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet (English), RDS (French)
In the Sharks region: NBCSCA
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/Rogers NHL Live
After some difficult performances in November that left both Carey Price and Antti Niemi to fend for themselves, the Montreal Canadiens have now turned in two consecutive great defensive showings, allowing just two goals in each, and finally coming away with their first victory in two weeks.
Limiting the Carolina Hurricanes to 22 shots, they replicated that feat on Saturday versus the New York Rangers. Shea Weber deserves a lot of the credit for the newfound defensive play, which, strangely enough, coincides with his return to the lineup.
Last night, his play at both ends was apparent, as he scored two goals, including on one play he started himself in his own end. He went 11 months without playing competitively, and has somehow stepped right back into the lineup as if he never missed a beat.
Rust is obviously no issue, but tonight will be a good test of his stamina. Playing a game-high 23:59 versus the Rangers, he will have had less than 24 hours of rest when the San Jose Sharks take to the Bell Centre ice.
Tale of the Tape
|0-2-0||H2H Record (17-18)||2-0-0|
|52.8% (6th)||Corsi-for pct.||55.8% (2nd)|
|3.08 (13th)||Goals per game||3.04 (14th)|
|3.27 (23rd)||Goals against per game||3.19 (21st)|
|15.2% (26th)||PP%||22.7% (11th)|
|78.6% (18th)||PK%||85.2% (2nd)|
Snapping one losing streak last night, they will still need to do so again on Sunday. Montreal has lost the last six contests versus San Jose, having no answer for the effective systems game they’ve adhered to over the past 10 to 15 years.
The 2018-19 Sharks are a far cry from those perennial contenders, yet the aging club still has a lot of bite. Brent Burns is as dangerous as ever, leading the team as its only point-per-game player. Joe Pavelski remains the team’s most dangerous scorer, and has quietly amassed 16 goals through 27 games to rank ninth in the NHL.
All of this comes with Erik Karlsson still trying to find his groove. When that inevitably happens, the Sharks will rocket up from their position as a middle-of-the-pack offensive team.
What’s really holding San Jose back this season, and out of a playoff position, is their inability to stop pucks from entering their net. The situation is about the opposite of what we saw for the Rangers: the Sharks are one of the NHL’s best teams at preventing shots on goal, but when pucks do get in on the goaltender, they’ve been going right through.
Starter Martin Jones has only faced 497 shots in 18 games, but 56 of them have slipped beyond his grasp. His .887 save percentage is better only than the beleaguered Mike Smith’s among the 32 netminders to play 13 games this year.
Jones posted an .808 mark in yesterday afternoon’s loss in Ottawa, yet he gets the call once again with more than a full day between contests. If the Canadiens can manage a few shots, they should be able to find some more success.
Montreal’s last win versus San Jose came on March 21, 2015, and that just a 2-0 shutout win. They haven’t scored more than two goals on the Sharks since before the 2012 lockout, with that one victory in the 10 games since. The Sharks are one of just three teams the Canadiens have taken less than half the available points from in the all-time series, and tonight is an opportunity to add two to their cause.