Montreal Canadiens goalie and Hart Trophy frontrunner Carey Price hammered yet another nail in the realistically already-buried coffin containing the Sharks' playoff chances. Price made 29 saves, including a potentially game-saving stop on Logan Couture in the final minute, in leading the Habs to a 2-0 win over San Jose. After failing to score on the Sharks in the teams' previous three meetings, Montreal turned the tables with a shutout of their own.
Tomas Plekanec's scored Montreal's only non-empty netter during an up-tempo, back-and-forth first period, depositing a perfect backhand cross-ice pass from Alex Galchenyuk on a 4-on-2. The Sharks had odd-man rushes of their own, including a particularly impotent 3-on-2 in the second period that produced nothing better than a missed Tommy Wingels shot from beyond the circles, but couldn't put the puck past the NHL's leader in every major goaltending category.
With this loss, combined with Winnipeg and Calgary picking up points in some of Saturday's other games, the Sharks fall eight points behind the Jets and six behind the Flames in a playoff chase that seems largely irrelevant to San Jose's season at this point.
- Matt Irwin, of all people, is essentially responsible for being the defensive conscience on his pairing with Brent Burns and he's honestly done a tremendous job. He singlehandedly broke up two separate odd-man Canadiens rushes tonight and was effective moving the puck all game long.
- He also won a wrestling match with Max Pacioretty:
It was a close round, but Irwin definitely takes it 10-9. The elbows from inside the half guard were the difference. pic.twitter.com/sgvoVv98NL— Marc Dumont (@Dr_Habs) March 22, 2015
- Obligatory "Burns should be a forward" bullet point. The big man streaking down the left wing and firing a perfectly-placed shot that unfortunately caught the post with a little over a minute to go was exhilarating.
- Marc-Edouard Vlasic is the Sharks' best overall defenseman my a gigantic margin but he's the fifth-best power play defenseman in their current lineup. Why he continues to get all the second unit minutes ahead of Irwin or even Brenden Dillon is beyond me. McLellan putting him on the ice for an offensive zone faceoff with ten seconds to go in the second period as the Sharks tried to tie the game was also curious.
- Marleau, Tierney and Hertl just didn't appear to be on the same page on the breakout and were routinely hemmed in by Montreal's pretty underwhelming bottom six. It wouldn't be surprising to see them broken up for Monday's game in Ottawa.
FTF Three Stars
1st Star: Carey Price
2nd Star: Tomas Plekanec
3rd Star: Alex Galchenyuk