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Montr?al Canadiens vs. San Jose Sharks @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Montreal Canadiens (34-25-6-2) at San Jose Sharks (32-16-11-6).

TIME: Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. EST.

The Montreal Canadiens have beaten three top teams during their five-game winning streak. To extend their run, they'll have to defeat another one as they take on the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion.

Jason Ward scored a power-play goal with 24 seconds left in regulation Monday night as Montreal knocked off defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey 2-1.

The victory moved the Canadiens within two points of the sixth-place Devils in the Eastern Conference. Montreal, 6-1 in its last seven, has also defeated Ottawa and Boston during its win streak.

"They're a great defensive team and it was a big challenge, and we came up with two points," Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said of the Devils.

Richard Zednik scored his first goal in more than a month and Jose Theodore stopped 28 shots for the Canadiens. Theodore has allowed six goals in his last five starts.

The Canadiens will be opening a four-game western trip. Montreal also travels to Phoenix, Los Angeles and Anaheim during the road swing.

Current Canadien and former Shark Niklas Sundstrom, who didn't dress for Monday's game, has concussion-like symptoms and won't accompany the team on the road trip.

The Canadiens will be facing a team almost as hot as they are.

The Sharks have won four of five (4-0-0-1) and six of eight to solidify their hold on the top spot in the Pacific Division. San Jose holds a six-point lead over Dallas.

Evgeni Nabokov made 24 saves for his eighth shutout of the season, and Jonathan Cheechoo scored early in the third period as the Sharks beat the St. Louis Blues 1-0 on Sunday night for their second win in a row.

"It was a toe-to-toe game, and one mistake can cost you a game like that," Nabokov said. "The shutout is good, but it's more important for the two points. We're in a pretty good position to climb up (the conference standings), but as soon as you start thinking you're up there, you find yourself down at the other end."

The Sharks are four points behind Detroit for first place in the Western Conference.

Cheechoo's 19th goal extended his point streak to a career-best seven games. The second-year forward has five goals and five assists during that span.

The Sharks will be completing a three-game homestand before departing on a tough two-game trip to Colorado and Dallas.

Wednesday's game will be the only meeting of the season between the Canadiens and Sharks.

STANDINGS: Canadiens - 76 points, 4th place, 8 PB, Northeast Division. Sharks - 81 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Zednik, 20 goals; Mike Ribeiro, 37 assists and 54 points; Darren Langdon, 119 PIM. Sharks - Patrick Marleau, 27 goals and 48 points; Vincent Damphousse, 23 assists; Scott Parker, 91 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 1): Canadiens - Power play: 17.8 percent (48 for 270), 7th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.0 percent (205 for 250), 25th. Sharks - Power play: 15.4 percent (42 for 272), 19th. Penalty killing: 85.1 percent (222 for 261), 7th.

GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Theodore (27-23-5, 6 SO, 2.12 GAA); Mathieu Garon (7-4-1, 2.44). Sharks - Nabokov (22-15-7, 8, 2.01); Vesa Toskala (10-7-4, 2.11).

2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Sharks, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: March 6; Sharks 4-3, OT. At San Jose, Calif., Marco Sturm scored two goals, including his career-high 22nd at 3:58 of the extra period, to lift the Sharks.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 15-14-2-2 on the road; Sharks - 17-5-7-2 at home.

Associated Press
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