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Quick Bites: Lackluster roadtrip comes to a close with victory over Habs

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The night started off well, but the Sharks held on for dear life to end their road trip on a high note.

Dec 2, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; San Jose Sharks left wing Marcus Sorensen (20) shoots on Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) during the second period at Bell Centre. Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

It was a long and frustrating road trip through Buffalo and Eastern Canada, but the San Jose Sharks were able to end it on a high note with a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

Throughout this five-game road trip, the Sharks have chased the score, playing from behind in all their games, never once holding the lead. However, against the Canadiens, the Sharks were able to grab the opening goal of the game and hold the lead for the first time on this road trip. A turnover led to Justin Braun recovering the puck and firing a slap shot past Carey Price early in the first period, for a goal Price certainly wants back.

After struggling their first four games, the Sharks looked like a completely different team in the opening period as they took the early lead and seemed to have an extra gear in their skates. The Sharks maintained control of the puck with a 54.55 Corsi For Percentage (CF%) and through the opening frame, the Canadiens were chasing the puck, eventually leading to two lackadaisical penalties and a 5-on-3 power play opportunity for the Sharks in the middle of the first.

With a two-man advantage, the Sharks were able to extend their lead to 2-0 via a Brent Burns goal, snapping a 15-game goal drought for the defender. The opening period was a stark contrast of what the Sharks had shown through the previous four games.

In the second, the Canadiens were able to out-shoot the Sharks 10-9 during 5-on-5 play and generate seven scoring chances. The Habs finally broke through when Jeff Petry skated in from the blue line and put the puck past Martin Jones.

It looked as though the Canadiens might have been finding their footing after a terrible start to the game. They cut the Sharks’ lead in half and Carey Price was making vital saves, particularly one on Marcus Sorensen who took a pass from Joe Thorton and sprung himself on a breakaway, only to be denied by Price. Unlike the previous games on the road trip, the Sharks didn’t let a molehill turn into a mountain. Joe Pavelski responded to recoup the Sharks’ two-goal lead.

All hands on deck appeared to be the motto for the Habs in the third period, controlling possession of the puck for the majority of the time with a 78.57 CF% during 5-on-5 play. This visual (courtesy of Natural Stat Trick) shows how drastic the shift was, rarely letting the Sharks touch the puck at even-strength.

Natural StatTrick

With the significant time the puck spent on the sticks of the Canadiens, it looked like they would get the puck past Martin Jones, but it wasn’t the case. In the final period, Jones saw 22 shots and 15 scoring chances from the Canadiens and stopped them all. Whether it was fatigue, or playing more conservatively to protect a lead or just wanting the road trip to come to an end, Jones helped bail the Sharks out and kept the door shut on the Canadiens in the final 20 minutes of the game.

The Sharks went 1-3-1 on the trip, including Erik Karlsson’s emotional return to Ottawa and culminated in a victory in Montreal. Now the team heads back home to the Bay Area for one quick game at SAP Center against the Carolina Hurricanes before going back out on the road for yet another back-to-back against the Arizona Coyotes and Dallas Stars.