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Sharks-Canadiens Preview

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Sharks-Canadiens Preview

GAME: San Jose Sharks (20-16-5) at Montreal Canadiens (19-16-6).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

The San Jose Sharks try to match a season-best six-game winning streak as they play the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.

The Sharks extended their winning streak with a 2-0 win Thursday over the Ottawa Senators. They've also won three straight and four of their last five games against the Canadiens.

Patrick Marleau and Nils Ekman scored goals, and Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov made 40 saves for his first shutout of the season.

"It feels great," Nabokov said. "But it feels even better that we got the win. We got the two points we need and we're ready to move up."

San Jose coach Ron Wilson praised his team's effort.

"You look up and see 40 shots against, but I don't really remember too many of them being grade-A chances," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "The shots were from the outside ... the defense did a great job and our forwards competed like heck."

San Jose has not lost since a 5-4 defeat Dec. 28 to the Phoenix Coyotes. The Sharks also won six straight games from Dec. 2-16 after acquiring Joe Thornton from the Boston Bruins.

Thornton, a Candian Olympic team selection, has points in 14 of 17 games since joining San Jose. He has just one assist in his last eight games against Montreal.

Montreal is struggling after losing for the fifth time in six games with Wednesday's 2-1 setback to the Colorado Avalanche

Backup goaltender Cristobal Huet gave up third-period goals to rookie Marek Svatos and Ian Laperriere as Montreal fell to 0-7-3 against the Colorado franchise since Jan. 5, 1994.

"When played very good and when you're up 1-0 halfway through th third period you expect to get something out of it," Huet said. "That's the way it is ... and that's that."

Leading goal-scorer Michael Ryder has just two in his last nine games after a season-best five-game goal-scoring streak. He had two assists in his only game against San Jose.

STANDINGS: Sharks - 45 points, 4th place, 15 PB, Pacific Division. Canadiens - 44 points, 4th place, 17 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sharks - Jonathan Cheechoo, 24 goals; Thornton, 45 assists and 60 points; Mark Smith, 57 PIM. Canadiens - Ryder, 18 goals; Saku Koivu, 21 assists and 31 points; Steve Begin, 89 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Sharks - Power play: 17.2 percent (43 for 250), 15th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.8 percent (164 for 203), 22nd. Canadiens - Power play: 17.2 percent (42 for 244), 15th. Penalty killing: 81.4 percent (210 for 258), 20th.

GOALTENDERS: Sharks - Nabokov (11-11-5, 1 SO, 2.87 GAA); Vesa Toskala (4-4-0, 0, 3.82). Canadiens - Jose Theodore (14-11-5, 0, 3.22); Huet (2-3-1, 0, 2.97).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Sharks, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: March 3, 2004; Sharks, 4-3. At San Jose, Calif., Niko Dimitrakos scored what proved to be the game-winning goal. Former Canadien Vincent Damphousse had a goal and two assists for San Jose.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sharks - 8-12-2 on the road; Canadiens - 12-6-2 at home.


Associated Press

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