MONTREAL – Their scorching early season offense has cooled significantly in the past two games, as the Sharks were shut out in Detroit on Monday and managed just one goal against Boston’s Tuukka Rask on Thursday.
They did, however, manage to fire 39 shots on Rask in the 2-1 loss, and had several good looks at the net that were turned away by the impressive Finn. They’ll want to repeat that effort against Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night at Bell Centre.
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“We had some very, very good looks in Boston between the hash marks, just us and Rask, the goaltender, and he was better than we were,” Todd McLellan said. “You have to bear down in those situations; you don’t get them often. We had enough in that game to score two, and that’s what would have made the difference.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic said: “We played really well last game. We outplayed them. We’ve got to play that way again, and we’ll get rewarded.”
The Sharks will remain without key personnel in Dan Boyle and Brent Burns, meaning other players will have to continue to fill those vacancies. Freddie Hamilton will again be slotted on the wing of Joe Thornton’s line with Tomas Hertl, and Hamilton was much more noticeable in Boston than Detroit, when he made his NHL debut.
Hamilton finished with four shots, and nearly gave San Jose a 1-0 lead in the first period with a sneaky attempt from the circle that seemed to catch Rask off guard.
“He had some good shots last game, and some good looks,” Thornton said. “He looked comfortable last game.”
Playing in Montreal is special for personal reasons for a number of NHL players, and the Sharks are no different. Several of the team’s family members were in attendance at the morning skate, including Jason Demers’ father and much of Boyle’s family.
Saturday night’s Hockey Night in Canada national broadcast adds even more oomph to the game for many of the visitors.
“I remember growing up on the farm, and we had three channels. If it wasn’t playing on the English channel, you switched to the French channel,” said Aneroid, Saskatchewan native Patrick Marleau.
The history and tradition of Canadiens hockey isn’t lost on Chicago-area native Tommy Wingels, either.
“I think any hockey fan knows that [history], and knows it’s special to play in a place like this,” Wingels said.
Leaving Montreal with a win would make it even better. But, to do that, they’ll have to break out of their mini-offensive funk.
“We’ve just got to score. That’s what we were doing the first eight games, scoring on those chances,” Logan Couture said.