Jason Ward scored a power-play goal with 24 seconds left in regulation Monday night as Montreal knocked off defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey 2-1.
The victory moved the Canadiens within two points of the sixth-place Devils in the Eastern Conference. Montreal, 6-1 in its last seven, has also defeated Ottawa and Boston during its win streak.
“They’re a great defensive team and it was a big challenge, and we came up with two points,” Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said of the Devils.
The Canadiens will be opening a four-game western trip. Montreal also travels to Phoenix, Los Angeles and Anaheim during the road swing.
Current Canadien and former Shark Niklas Sundstrom, who didn’t dress for Monday’s game, has concussion-like symptoms and won’t accompany the team on the road trip.
The Canadiens will be facing a team almost as hot as they are.
The Sharks have won four of five (4-0-0-1) and six of eight to solidify their hold on the top spot in the Pacific Division. San Jose holds a six-point lead over Dallas.
Evgeni Nabokov made 24 saves for his eighth shutout of the season, and Jonathan Cheechoo scored early in the third period as the Sharks beat the St. Louis Blues 1-0 on Sunday night for their second win in a row.
“It was a toe-to-toe game, and one mistake can cost you a game like that,” Nabokov said. “The shutout is good, but it’s more important for the two points. We’re in a pretty good position to climb up (the conference standings), but as soon as you start thinking you’re up there, you find yourself down at the other end.”
The Sharks are four points behind Detroit for first place in the Western Conference.
Cheechoo’s 19th goal extended his point streak to a career-best seven games. The second-year forward has five goals and five assists during that span.
The Sharks will be completing a three-game homestand before departing on a tough two-game trip to Colorado and Dallas.
Wednesday’s game will be the only meeting of the season between the Canadiens and Sharks.