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Game preview: MTL @ SJS

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

CANADIENS (35-23-7) @ SHARKS (40-17-7)

On Saturday night, the Canadiens are in San Jose to take on the Sharks.

The Habs are coming off a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night. The home team made the Canadiens pay on the power play, scoring three goals while the Canadiens were down by a man. P.K. Subban’s efforts kept the game close through two periods, as the defenseman set up Andrei Markov’s first-period goal and blasted a shot on a five-on-three powerplay which Alex Galchenyuk tipped home in the second frame. Despite out-shooting the Coyotes 11-1 in the second period, the Habs could not tie the game and saw their chances slip away in the middle of the third when Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan scored two quick goals.

Also in action on Thursday, the Sharks defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-3 at home. Brent Burns had two goals and Joe Pavelski notched three assists. Patrick Marleau, Justin Braun and Joe Thornton also scored. Antti Niemi made 19 saves on only 22 shots against, while the Sharks launched 46 shots in the direction of Jeff Zatkoff, the Penguins’ starter.

Dramatically out-shooting the opposition is a Sharks trademark, as the team currently leads the league in shots per game with 33.1. In contrast, the Canadiens rank 24th overall with 27.3. The most trigger-happy players in San Jose include Patrick Marleau (229 shots in 64 games), Brent Burns (183 in 51) and Logan Couture (178 in 48). Not surprisingly, these players are all in the top-four in goal scoring on the team.

In terms of injuries, the Shark are without Tomas Hertl, who is out indefinitely with a knee injury, and Brad Stuart, who is on IR with an upper-body injury. For the Habs, Carey Price remains on injured reserve with an lower-body injury, while Michael Bournival and Brandon Prust are day-to-day. Josh Gorges has a fractured hand and has flown back to Montreal to visit with specialists. There are currently no timelines for his return.

Saturday’s tilt will be the second of two between the teams this season. The Sharks beat the Canadiens 2-0 at the Bell Centre on October 26 2013. The Habs’ last win over San Jose came on December 4 2010, when the team had the upper hand in a 3-1 decision.

Puck drop is scheduled at 10PM E.S.T.

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