MONTREAL (AP)—Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey got quick and positive results from two of the three players he singled out after taking over the team’s coaching duties Saturday.
Andrei Markov had two goals and two assists in a six-goal second period and Jose Theodore made 23 saves to help Gainey win his Canadiens coaching debut, a 6-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
Markov and Chris Higgins scored short-handed goals and Markov also had one of Montreal’s four power-play goals in the second.
“Andre, I’m just getting to know him but I think he has a lot to offer and he has a good vision of the ice, great ability with the puck and he gave us a taste of it tonight,” said Gainey, who mentioned Markov and Theodore along with injured defenseman Sheldon Souray as players who could do better. “We’d like to see more.”
Swiss defenseman Mark Streit scored his first NHL goal and added an assist, both points coming on the power play.
“It’s a big relief,” Streit said. “It’s an awesome feeling. It’s obviously like a dream come true for me and I’m very happy about the big win tonight. It was a very big win and now we can build on that.”
“We deserved what we got in the second period,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said.
Gainey, who stepped behind an NHL bench for the first time in 10 years, fired coach Claude Julien and assistant coach Rick Green earlier in the day and appointed himself to replace Julien. Montreal, which got off to a 12-3-1 start, had won just seven of its last 25 games.
The winner of four straight Selke Awards as the league’s top defensive player during a Hall of Fame career with Montreal, Gainey had a 165-190-60 regular-season coaching record with Minnesota/Dallas from 1990-96, leading the North Stars to their second Stanley Cup finals appearance in 1992.
“I hadn’t been close to the ice for a game in quite a while,” Gainey said. “It was a fun game to be a part of.”
Despite trailing 1-0 after the first, Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said that Gainey told the team he was encouraged by their effort.
“He told us to stick with the game plan,” Koivu said. “He said, ‘You keep getting the puck in their end and things will happen for us.’ He probably didn’t expect that we would have that kind of second period.”
Markov got the Canadiens’ outburst underway when he scored a short-handed goal 1:35 into the second on a fine set up by Radek Bonk to tie it after Stevenson’s eighth of the season opened the scoring 17:33 in.
Markov got his second of the game—his seventh of the season—on a power play at 7:15 to put Montreal ahead 2-1.
He got an assist on Higgins’ short-handed goal at 8:59, a fine individual effort by the Canadiens rookie that increased the lead to 3-1.
Markov picked up his fourth straight point at 17:13 as he set up Streit, who beat Nabokov with a point shot for his first goal in 26 games with Montreal.
“I just try to do my best and try to play simple,” said Markov, who hadn’t heard about Gainey’s comments about his play earlier in the day.
Ribeiro added another power-play goal at 18:25 and then took a hard hit from Sharks defenseman Kyle McLaren as he set up Bulis’ goal at 19:34, the Canadiens’ fourth on five power-play opportunities in the second.
“We played a somewhat cautious (first) period and came out with the lead, I just didn’t think that would signal the flat second period that we had,” Wilson said. “We were awful.”
Vesa Toskala took over in the third for Nabokov, who had his first shutout of the season in a 2-0 win in Ottawa on Thursday night.
“We’ve got to throw this one out of the window and forget about it,” Nabokov said.
Cheechoo was credited with his 25th goal following the game, a power-play goal late in the third that was originally credited to Joe Thornton.
Nabokov made 14 saves, including eight on 14 shots in the second. Toskala stopped six shots. … Bonk and Canadiens LW Alex Kovalev each had two assists. … Montreal has sold out each of its 21 home games. … Markov’s four points in the second were the most by a Canadiens defenseman in one period since Jean-Claude Tremblay had four second-period assists against Detroit on Dec. 29, 1962.