When the Sharks beat the Red Wings 3-2 on Nov. 13, it wasn’t their prettiest effort. After all, San Jose generated just 14 shots on goal that night to Detroit’s 28, but some solid goaltending and timely scores helped the club kick off its six-game road trip on the right foot. Five more wins followed.
Considering they’ve lost six in a row headed into Tuesday’s game against Atlantic Division-leading Montreal, the Sharks would take another win any way they can get one. It could go a long way, as they’ll continue on to Toronto, Ottawa, Chicago and Los Angeles in the final five games before the Christmas break.
“It’s kind of like getting that first goal. You’re not playing from behind,” Joe Pavelski said. “Road trips get kind of bunched together. We’ve been talking about those six games, and we’ll be talking about these next five. Obviously, you want to get that first one. You’re going into a tough building and a good team that’s playing good.”
Pete DeBoer’s club was 7-8 before reeling off those six straight wins away from home. The team was trending the right way again, but has since lost seven of its last eight (1-6-1) and could very well be on the precipice of a tailspin.
“We’re in an identical situation. We’d love another 5-0 road trip, but we’ve got to take it one game at a time here,” DeBoer said. “The good news is the string hasn’t killed us. We’re still right there. There’s a lot of hockey left to be played.”
Martin Jones will start in net against the Canadiens. The goalie’s numbers are down lately, as the 25-year-old is 1-5-1 with a 2.97 goals-against average and .888 save percentage in his last seven starts.
On the road, though, Jones boasts a 9-3-1 record with a 1.98 GAA and .930 SP.
Although he allowed an early goal to Tomas Tatar in the previous road opener a little more than a month ago at Joe Louis Arena, he settled in nicely and helped set the tone for the rest of the successful trip.
“It’s an important road trip,” Jones said. “It’s starting to get to that time of year where the games are starting to get a little tougher, more like playoff hockey. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”
Although the Sharks have lost three straight road games (0-2-1), they still own the league’s fourth best record away from home (10-5-1).
What can they take from that previous six-game sweep?
“Confidence knowing we can win on the road. That’s a tough thing to do in this league, and we know we can do it,” Tommy Wingels said.
“To get the first one and start the road trip off the right way is very important. Then you feel good about the rest of the road trip going forward. Ultimately we’ve been through some adversity here, but we’ve got to find a way to start putting points in the bank. It doesn’t matter how you win, but finding a way to win is something we need to do a better job of.”