Canadiens-Sharks Preview


The San Jose Sharks just stormed back to beat one of the NHL's top teams, picking up another two points at home.

It's been over 14 years since the Montreal Canadiens last won in San Jose.

Looking to build on one of their more physical displays of the season, the Sharks go for a seventh consecutive home win over the Canadiens on Saturday night.

San Jose (40-17-7) has allowed 2.0 goals per game in posting one of the NHL's best home records at 23-4-4. After opening a four-game homestand with Tuesday's 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina, the Sharks bounced back with Thursday's 5-3 win over Pittsburgh.

Brent Burns scored twice and captain Joe Thornton tallied the go-ahead goal with 5:39 left in regulation as San Jose erased a 2-0 deficit. Joe Pavelski assisted on each of those goals for the Sharks, who outshot the Penguins 34-12 over the final 40 minutes and scored four times in the third period.

San Jose hadn't won when trailing by at least two goals after the first period since Nov. 3, 2011.

"I thought that's as physical as we've played in a while," coach Todd McLellan told the NHL's official website. "We were really engaged, and it's not about running out of position and big hits. It's about body position, playing on the inside, knocking people off 50-50 pucks, playing around the opposition's net, even in front of our net. It's nice to get rewarded for that type of effort."

Burns also had a game-high five hits as San Jose outhit Pittsburgh 30-14. The Sharks are 19-2-1 when he has at least one point.

"That's as physical as I've seen him play and maybe one of his best games that I've seen him play," McLellan said. "One goes with the other. ... He was a force, almost a bully out there on the ice. He needs to bring that every night because he could be a very effective guy that way."

Burns will try to come out strong again versus Montreal (35-23-7). The Canadiens, who last visited the Bay Area in December 2011, are 0-4-2 in San Jose since pulling out a 3-2 overtime victory there Nov. 23, 1999.

The Sharks have taken seven of 10 in the series overall after winning 2-0 in Montreal on Oct. 26. Logan Couture scored both goals and Antti Niemi made 22 saves.

The Canadiens are coming off Thursday's 5-2 loss at Phoenix, dropping to 1-2-0 on a four-game trip. Andrei Markov had a goal and an assist but Peter Budaj stopped just 18 shots.

Montreal, which was playing its fourth game in six days, trailed 3-1 after the first period.

"I think sometimes it's travel, but that's not an excuse," Budaj said of his team's slow start. "It's not an excuse; you've got to be ready and I don't think we were ready right off the hop."

Thomas Vanek was quiet in his first game since coming over from the Islanders before the trade deadline. He skated alongside Tomas Plekanec and captain Brian Gionta, and coach Michel Therrien plans to keep the trio together for the time being.

"There's already good chemistry there but they'll need to work on it still," Therrien told the team's official website. "With time, I'm sure things will go really well with them."

Vanek has five goals in his last five games against the Sharks.

Despite Thursday's loss, Montreal is 4-2-0 in its last six on the road.

"We need to find a way to get that energy and get wins to finish this road trip on a high note," Therrien said.