NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, December 1st (All times Eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (10-11-4) at San Jose Sharks (13-7-1), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens hope to get their struggling power play on track this evening as they continue their California road trip this evening against the San Jose Sharks.
The Canadiens began a swing through Anaheim, San Jose and Los Angeles last night with a 4-1 setback to the Ducks. Andrei Kostitsyn scored Montreal's only goal and Peter Budaj made 23 saves in his fourth appearance of the season.
The setback dropped the Habs to 1-3-1 in their last five games and they are 0- for-23 on the man advantage during that time.
"It seemed like the whole third period was special teams, either on the power play or killing penalties," Montreal's Brian Gionta said. "It's tough to get some momentum back but that's why you need your power play to create something and unfortunately in the third period we didn't create any shots or sustained pressure."
The Canadiens also played without leading goal-scorer Max Pacioretty as he served the first of a three-game suspension for a hit on Pittsburgh's Kris Letang on Saturday. Pacioretty has 10 goals on the season.
While Pacioretty won't play on this West Coast swing, there continues to be speculation that defenseman Andrei Markov could. The blueliner and power-play quarterback hasn't played since re-injuring his right knee on Nov. 13, 2010 as he was forced to undergo a second reconstructive surgery less than a month later.
Markov did practice on Monday, but did not suit up last night.
The Sharks, meanwhile, hope to avoid a third straight setback after dropping a 2-0 decision to the Kings on Monday. Antti Niemi allowed both goals on 33 shots, while Los Angeles netminder Jonathan Quick was perfect with 33 saves.
San Jose has yielded five goals in losing two straight for the first time since a season-high three-game slide from Oct. 14-17. It had given up only four goals over a four-game win streak that proceeded the consecutive defeats.
"I'm not going to pick the energy. We're only going to pick work ethic, commitment, passion ... I want to know where they [the Sharks] went between the second and third to find it [energy]," Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said. "It's really disappointing, probably more disappointing because we came out and played hard in the third. So it made it even tougher to swallow."
San Jose opens a four-game homestand tonight and is 6-4-1 as the host. Both Colin White (personal) and Michal Handzus (illness) are questionable.
Behind a game-winning goal by Tomas Plekanec and 26 saves from Carey Price, the Habs notched a 3-1 home win over the Sharks on Dec. 4 in the lone meeting between the clubs last season.
Montreal, though, hasn't won in San Jose since Nov. 23, 1999, losing each of its last five visits.
12/01 10:54:16 ET