The San Jose Sharks have made the most of their power-play opportunities over the past two games. If they hope to continue their success with the man-advantage, they’ll have to do it against one of the best penalty-killing units in the NHL.
San Jose continues a five-game road trip Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens, who look to win two straight for the first time since mid-November.
The Sharks have converted three of their last four power plays, including both in a 4-0 win over Ottawa on Thursday that opened this trip. It was the eighth time this season San Jose (12-8-4) has scored at least twice with the man advantage.
Dany Heatley(notes), who was playing his first game in Ottawa since demanding a trade from the Senators before the 2009-10 season, had an assist to give him at least one point in eight of his last nine games.
“It definitely gets the adrenaline going a little bit more, not only for me but I thought for both teams out there, especially early,” Heatley said. “It was kind of a playoff atmosphere in there and I thought the pace was really good to start the game.”
Heatley, who leads San Jose with 12 goals and 26 points this season, has scored twice in three of his last four visits to the Bell Centre.
Antti Niemi(notes) made 28 saves for his first shutout with San Jose. Niemi, who had seven shutouts last season with Stanley Cup champion Chicago, is 3-1-1 with a 3.17 goals-against average in his last five games after starting the season 1-4-0 with a 3.91 GAA.
Price has started 24 games - more than any goaltender - and has been key in Montreal’s penalty kill. Opponents are 3 for 37 on the power play against the Canadiens (16-8-2) over their last nine games.
Montreal killed all three penalties, and improved to an NHL-leading 89.9 percent while shorthanded in a 5-1 win against New Jersey on Thursday. Price made 27 saves to improve to 3-0-1 with a 1.74 GAA in his last four starts.
The victory came a night after the Canadiens blew a two-goal, third-period lead in a 4-3 loss to Edmonton. It took only 11 seconds for Brian Gionta(notes) to score Thursday and Lars Eller(notes) scored shortly after to help put the Devils away early.
“We all knew it wasn’t good enough (Wednesday),” Eller said. “It was mistakes that are easily fixed. We also quickly forgot about it. We’ve been good coming back after a loss, and I think we showed that again. We were ready from the start today.”
Montreal hasn’t won back-to-back games since winning four straight from Nov. 9-16.
The Canadiens are 6-1-1 in their last eight at home, but the Sharks have won their last two road games.
This will be the only regular-season meeting between the teams. Montreal and San Jose have split the last four matchups with each team winning twice at home.