MONTREAL – It had been more than three years since the Montreal Canadiens scored a goal against the San Jose Sharks.
Canadiens goaltender Carey Price decided to reverse that trend. The Vezina Trophy candidate made 29 saves in helping Montreal to a 2-0 win over the Sharks on Saturday at Bell Centre.
The Sharks fell to six points behind Calgary for third place in the Pacific Division, and eight points behind Winnipeg for the second wild card spot. They also saw a four-game winning streak against Montreal come to an end.
Price recorded his second straight shutout, including a 4-0 win over Carolina at home on Thursday. Montreal is tied with Anaheim atop the NHL with 99 points.
A fast paced first period ended with a late Montreal goal by Tomas Plekanec. On a four-on-two rush, Alex Galchenyuk’s pass through the slot deflected off of Marc-Edouard Vlasic to Plekanec’s tape, and he easily flipped in his 22nd goal at 18:46.
It was Montreal’s first goal against the Sharks since Dec. 1, 2011, as the Canadiens went an even 215 minutes against San Jose without lighting the lamp. The Sharks had shut out Montreal in the last three meetings, including a 4-0 win at home on March 2.
The game stayed that way until Brendan Gallagher’s empty net goal at 19:46 of the third period.
Price wasn’t tested a whole lot through two periods in recording his ninth shutout. He gloved a Brent Burns wrist shot destined for the top corner about seven minutes into the first period, though, and later denied Logan Couture on a Sharks power play early in the second.
The Sharks had a chance to tie with a third period power play on a Devante Smith-Pelly minor at 11:53, but Price made key stops on Couture and Burns to preserve the 1-0 lead.
Burns rang a snap shot off the far post with 1:49 to go, and then Price robbed Couture on a setup from Pavelski with 1:30 to go, sprawling out in the blue paint.
San Jose fell to 1-2 on its road trip, beating Toronto but losing to Winnipeg.
The Sharks were 0-for-2 on the power play, and are now 1-for-10 over the last three games.
Montreal did not have a single power play chance against the Sharks this season, including on March 2 in San Jose. It was the fourth game this season that the Sharks were not shorthanded.
Antti Niemi, who had won his two previous starts at Bell Centre, took the hard luck loss with 27 saves.
Price allowed four goals on 37 shots in losing to the Sharks earlier in the month. He won for just the second time in seven career decisions vs. San Jose (2-4-1).
The Sharks made no lineup changes from their win in Toronto on Thursday, scratching John Scott and Scott Hannan.
Montreal’s Jeff Petry returned from a one-game absence with the flu. Former Sharks forward Torrey Mitchell (arm) was also among the Canadiens’ injured scratches.
San Jose will take a short trip to Ottawa, where it will face upstart goalie Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond and the Senators on Monday night. Ottawa beat the Sharks at SAP Center on Feb. 28, 4-2.
After that, the Sharks will have two days to rest before playing at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Thursday.