The big, scary questions about the Sharks’ future seem to have been allayed for another few days. With a 3-1 win over the Canadiens in Montreal, the Sharks salvage three points out of a five game road trip, and may have saved head coach Peter DeBoer’s job for a while yet.
The story of San Jose’s win tonight has to center around Martin Jones. Playing the second road game in as many nights, Jones stood tall, stopping 34 of Montreal’s 35 shots on the night, and withstanding a dangerous push in the third period. The Habs controlled 56% of the game’s five on five shot attempts, a number that was buoyed by a 79% shot attempt share in the third period.
After the Sharks outscored their hosts 2-0 in the first period, thanks to Braun and Burns, Jones’ one goal allowed to Jeff Petry in the second was not enough for the Habs to climb back into the game (math!). Joe Pavelski tallied one late in the second to put the game into a place that would turn out to be out of reach.
Overall, the Sharks would do well to learn from the Canadiens’ push in the third, and do a better job at putting forth a consistent effort for the full sixty minutes. For now, though, this’ll do, as the Sharks win their first road game since the end of October, and their seventh in a row against this Montreal squad.
A long morning meeting and the unusual presence of general manager Doug Wilson has added some drama to the proceedings of this evening. The consequences of a loss here could be pretty dire.
20:00 Sharks are starting the Thornton line, and the Habs are starting David Schlemko on defense just to hurt us.
18:38 Good opportunities, Evander Kane and Antti Suomela on an odd man rush thanks to a strong neutral zone pass from Joonas Donskoi. Broken up by Jordie Benn, but a strong start in the offensive zone, for sure.
17:05 SHARKS GOAL Justin Braun steals an errant pass at the blue line from Jeff Petry and blasts it past Carey Price from the parking lot. They needed that early. A good reminder that Price is on his second game in two nights as well.
15:00 Martin Jones coming up large with a glove save on Max Domi on a two on one. Helps preserve what is the Sharks’ first lead of this road trip. (Yes, really)
14:01 Sharks are maintaining some really good offensive pressure, emphasized by two blue line blasts from Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
13:14 Marcus Sorensen flattens Brett Kulak at the half wall, as the Habs finally get out of their zone for a few shifts.
12:00 The Canadiens making a lot of ill advised passes in the defensive and neutral zones and the Sharks are doing a good job of capitalizing on them for scoring chances.
11:10 POWER PLAY Mike Reilly gets two minutes for cross checking Barclay Goodrow in a dangerous area by the neutral zone boards. Scary and unnecessary hit, he’ll hear about that from Julien.
10:12 5 on 3 Logan Couture takes a high Michael Chaput (sha-poo) stick, but doesn’t bleed for the team because he isn’t captain material. 1:03 of five on three time for our boyos.
9:31 SHARKS GOAL Brent Burns scores a blistering snap shot from Joe Pavelski below the goal line and Erik Karlsson at the point. The Sharks are rewarded for a patient, conservative approach to the five on three. 2-0 Sharks. Burns’ goal drought is over at 15 games.
Power play at it's finest pic.twitter.com/0xVgxK2epn— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) December 3, 2018
8:14 More solid chances on the remaining power play, as Karlsson bounces a snap shot off the post behind Price. Back at evens.
5:25 Montreal finally gets out of their zone, as the Sharks are dominating possession.
5:08 PENALTY KILL Sharks get tagged for too many men on the ice as Couture is too slow to get off and Thornton touches the puck at the bench. Kevin Labanc in the box.
4:58 Shea Weber just exploded Jones’ goal stick with a slap shot. Can you believe these guys voluntarily block those things? Animals.
3:07 Sharks penalty killers do an excellent job clogging up Montreal’s entries, and Jones makes a few great saves with the knob of his stick to kill off the Habs power play.
2:07 Jones makes a pair of excellent stops on Habs forward Paul Byron. Who is this man and why is he wearing a Martin Jones jersey? He can keep it.
END 1st: Sharks head into the first intermission outscoring their hosts 2-0, outshooting them 12-8, and out attempting them 18-13 at five on five. Maybe that meeting this morning really hit home. Montreal has had some really good looks, though, and our boys will have to clean up their play down low in the defensive zone if they don’t want to pin all of their hopes on a tired Jones.
20:00 The Sharks’ second period play has been less than ideal this season, if they can build on their strong play from the first frame here, they’ll be in a very good position.
19:10 The Sharks are playing a little safe in the first few shifts here, not favorite.
18:27 Couture takes a puck up high. Kid’s having a hard night.
17:55 Jones with another great save on another two on one from another Max Domi, after Weber flattens poor Suomela in the Sharks’ zone.
15:55 Radim Simek wins the physical battle against Kenny Agostino, who seems shaken up on the Habs’ bench.
Radim Simek out here knocking his nerves with hits. pic.twitter.com/6Hv403nPNV— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) December 3, 2018
13:36 Montreal must have looked at the scoreboard on the way out for the second, they’re playing with a little more desperation, but the Sharks are keeping things calm.
13:03 Burns can’t quite get the puck through to the net with Price napping after a collision with Goodrow, great opportunity though, and good on Radim Simek for going to the net.
11:55 Oh, there’s Carey Price. Beautiful toe save on Marcus Sorensen to keep the game within two, followed shortly by a strong position save on Tomas Hertl.
10:15 Melker Karlsson whiffs the net on a three on one. Poor Brent Burns opts to pass for the first time in his life and this is what he gets.
8:24 Donskoi - Kane - Suomela just burying poor Carey Price in shots out here.
7:45 CANADIENS GOAL Jeff Petry bounces a puck off of Jones’ face before getting it back from a fanned pass back through the crease in slow motion. 2-1 Sharks.
5:57 Brenden Dillon breaks up a three on one with Karlsson coming back fast. Most of that was Brendan Gallagher trying to pass through the big man, but he was in the right place.
4:09 SHARKS GOAL Joe Pavelski blasts in a one timer from Burns in the corner, sliding that shot in before being picked up by a puck watching Petry. Sharks regain the two goal lead late in the period. 3-1 Sharks.
3:07 POWER PLAY Things getting a little spicy out here, as a Weber hit on Joonas Donskoi elevates some emotions. Weber gets tossed in the box for two for interference, despite some extracurriculars from Dillon and Nicolas Deslaurier.
1:30 Sharks power play looking deadly, and on a related note, how good has Kevin Labanc looked tonight? Discuss among yourselves.
1:24 5 on 3 This is just not their night, is it? Petry tosses a puck 200 feet into the netting behind Jones, for a two minute delay of game penalty.
0:20 Price with a golden save on Kane, singlehandedly keeping his team in the game at this point.
END 2nd: The Sharks will start the third on the power play thanks to Petry’s delay of game penalty. Price has been excellent, and is the reason the Habs are still in this thing. San Jose holds a 3-1 lead, but let Montreal back into the shot battle, only leading 22-18, recording ten each in the middle frame, but out attempting their hosts 22-16.
20:00 The Sharks carry a two goal lead into the final frame, but the Habs have started to look a little more alive as time has gone on tonight. Closing out the final 20 with a win will go a long way toward salvaging this trip.
19:05 Some good looks for the Sharks’ power play, but Price stands tall to hold them off for now.
17:27 Jones makes a couple of strong saves on Tatar and Drouin to maintain the two goal lead. The Habs are very much still in this game.
17:09 Simek obliterates Gallagher at the Sharks’ bench, losing his own helmet in the process. Gallagher looks like he’s sleeping standing up after the collision.
14:27 Jones again stops Domi again. Max Domi is going to dream of a teal 31 tonight.
12:54 Paul Byron with a chance against Jones all by himself, and Jones leaves him wanting. If Jones wants to silence his doubters (yours truly) tonight has been a good first step.
11:52 Another big Jones save on Reilly, who was surrounded by Sharks like he was in the coliseum.
10:43 Sharks giving up a lot of opportunities in transition this period, luckily Jones has been holding up the back end.
8:06 Habs are really pushing to get back into this game and it feels like it might just be a matter of time. Ten shots on goal so far to the Sharks’ three.
5:14 Sharks are caught on another icing. They’ve been hemmed into their zone a lot in this period, just trying to hold on.
3:57 PENALTY KILL Melker Karlsson gets caught tripping our friend, Schlemko, and is sent off for two. This is the biggest kill of the night for our Sharkos, and could determine the outcome of the whole thing.
2:04 Jones is the Sharks’ best penalty killer again, as the Sharks get out of a late scrape unscathed. Into the end game now.
1:42 Montreal empties the net, probably a little later than would be optimal. A little surprising that we didn’t see a whole pile of six on four action at this point in the game.
Game: A big win to close out a pretty miserable road trip. Does this buy the Sharks’ coaching staff some rope? It probably shouldn’t, but it probably will.
Losers of four in a row, the San Jose Sharks’ (12-10-5, 4th Pacific) record looks eerily similar to that of the hosting Montreal Canadiens (11-9-5, 5th Atlantic), who just halted a losing streak of their own last night with a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers.
The Habs seem boosted by the return of captain Shea Weber, whose two first period goals last night were too much for the Rangers to handle. If Weber is as healthy as he seems, averaging more than 24 minutes a night in both games since his return, he could spell trouble for the reeling Sharks.
Out of a playoff position for the first time this season, the Sharks have a lot of questions to answer, and a loss tonight could (should?) spell big changes or a big swing for the proverbial fences. Luckily for us, even if the game itself turns out to be a dud, the aftermath may be worth watching as the seat under head coach Peter DeBoer has got to be feeling pretty warm. For the Sharks, if they have any fondness for their bench boss at all, this is as close to a must win game as one can imagine in the beginning of December.
The time, to borrow a turn of phrase, is nigh.
This is getting silly. We’ve written in this space as recently as last week about the folly of starting the same goaltender for two halves of a back to back, and that discrepancy is exacerbated with travel in the mix. The decision to start the already struggling Martin Jones today after what was already an unacceptable performance last night is baffling, and the idea that Radim Simek will be able to maximize his potential in a debut during which he’ll be expected to cover for Brent Burns’ offensive excesses is similarly concerning. One wonders.
Jonathan Drouin -- Max Domi -- Andrew Shaw
Tomas Tatar -- Phillip Danault -- Brendan Gallagher
Paul Byron -- Jesperi Kotkaniemi -- Artturi Lehkonen
Kenny Agostino -- Michael Chaput -- Nicolas Deslauriers
Brett Kulak -- Shea Weber
David Schlemko -- Jeff Petry
Mike Reilly -- Jordie Benn
Well, that’s some consolation. Habs head coach Claude Julien is drinking from the same punch bowl as DeBoer, apparently, as Price will start his second game in as many nights tonight. That’s a little more understandable (not a lot) considering the difference between Price and Niemi, but still probably not the best decision.
Where to Watch
The game will be broadcast in the bay area on NBCSCA, as per usual, SportsNet and SportsNet 1 north of the border, and RDS for our friendly francophones. Radio call on 98.5 KFOX, for the 4:00 Pacific puck drop.