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Halak stands tall in net as Canadiens down Sharks 3-2 for fourth straight win

NHL.com @NHL

MONTREAL - Saku Koivu and Andrei Markov each had a goal and an assist in a three-goal outburst in the first period as the Montreal Canadiens posted their fourth straight victory with a 3-2 NHL win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

Defenceman Josh Gorges also scored as Montreal had three in a 6:42 span and Jaroslav Halak made 46 saves in his fourth straight start for the Canadiens (34-22-7).

Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton scored early in the second frame for San Jose (42-10-9), the Western Conference leader which has lost two of its last three. The Sharks had won five of their previous six contests.

The Sharks came out strong, but failed to beat Halak, and it was Montreal's reawakened power play that opened the scoring after Christian Ehrhoff was sent off for hooking.

Tomas Plekanec got the puck to Markov at the point for a shot that went in off defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic's arm at 11:05 for Montreal's 11th power-play goal in 25 chances in six games since acquiring point man Mathieu Schneider in a trade from Atlanta last week.

Forechecking by Matt D'Agostini saw the rookie feed the onrushing Gorges for a shot into an open side at 13:27 and Markov fed a wide-open Koivu for a goal from the right side at 17:47, giving Montreal three goals in a four-shot span.

The crowd of 21,273 began to mock goalie Brian Boucher by chanting his name, but coach Todd McLellan was loathe to change him. Evgeni Nabokov, who has been scheduled to start, was battling a flu and was not even sitting on the bench.

The Sharks took pressure off their goaltender by scoring twice in the opening 1:55 of the second frame.

Pavelski fought off Gorges at the side of the net to poke in a power-play goal at 1:06 and 49 seconds later, Patrick Marleau fed Thornton going hard to the net for a shot that trickled under Halak's arm.

The Sharks poured on the attack over the final two periods, but the closest they came was a Marleau shot in the third that went under Halak's arm and off the post.

Notes: Defenceman Doug Janik, acquired by Montreal from Dallas on Thursday, cleared waivers and was assigned to AHL Hamilton. . . The Canadiens played the 3,000th home game in their 100-year history. They are (1,837-755-408) all-time at home. . . Sharks winger Claude Lemieux, who began his career in Montreal and who is making a comeback at 42, got a rousing welcome from the fans. . . Mathieu Dandenault and Kyle Chipchura were scratched for Montreal, while Alexei Semenov didn't dress for San Jose.

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