- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Saturday, ahead of hosting the visiting San Jose Sharks at the Bell Centre.
- P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty, Dale Weise, Lars Eller and Torrey Mitchell (injured) were the only players absent from practice.
- Carey Price will be back in goal for the Habs on Saturday, making his 59th start of the season against the Sharks. On Thursday, Price set a new personal best, winning his career-high 39th game of the season against the Hurricanes.
- Jeff Petry will be back in the lineup after missing Thursday’s game with the flu. The 27-year-old defenseman will be paired with Alexei Emelin on the blue line, while Nathan Beaulieu should be a healthy scratch.
“I’m feeling a lot better than yesterday, and yesterday was a lot better than the day before, so I’m taking steps in the right direction,” confirmed Petry following practice.
- The Canadiens have scored seven goals in their last two games, but now face a tough task in keeping that offensive output alive against a Sharks team which has shut them out in each of their three previous meetings.
“There are some teams that get into your head,” admitted forward David Desharnais, who has nevertheless registered three points in four career games opposite the Sharks. “Obviously we didn’t play well in San Jose this year, but we’ve got 10 games left this season to show what we’re made of, including five at home. We want to be at our best in front of our fans and scoring a couple of goals against the Sharks tonight would be a good boost for our confidence.”
- Arriving in Montreal in the thick of a battle for one of the West’s final two wild card spots, the Sharks aren’t a team the Habs can take lightly heading down the stretch.
“It’s going to be a good test for us,” continued Desharnais. “We want to prepare ourselves for the playoffs by facing teams who are hungry for points. They might be big and strong, but we’re fast, so it should be a good matchup.”
Despite their spot in the standings, Devante Smith-Pelly knows better than most that this year’s point totals don’t tell the entire story regarding the perennial Pacific Division powerhouse.
“You look at their team on paper and it’s strange. They’ve always been big and fast every time I’ve played them, so it’s a little odd to see them so low in the standings,” acknowledged the former Anaheim Duck who will face the Sharks for the 11th time in his career on Saturday. “But if we just play the game we’re supposed to and stick to our systems we should be alright. You see where we are in the standings, so obviously that’s something we’ve been able to do for most of the season.”
Another recent Western Conference transplant echoed similar sentiments.
“They’re going to be hungry and desperate, and they’re going to be throwing everything they have at us,” added Petry. “We’re going to have to match their intensity and elevate our game in order to suppress theirs.”