Coming off a 4 - 0 shutout of the Ottawa Senators, the Sharks will look to keep things rolling in the second game of their five-game road trip on Saturday when they play the Eastern conference juggernaut Montreal Canadiens. The shutout victory saw two goals from Logan Couture with the other two coming from Patrick Marleau and Justin Braun, who can attribute the minutes he's getting to the injuries along San Jose's blueline.
Antti Niemi made the start in Ottawa, and his 28 saves and eight career shutout marked his best game in a Sharks uniform, and looks to have been the reason he's drawing the start against Montreal. The line of thinking is that Niemi needs the confidence boost - he's a decent goalie, but a streaky one; any chance to capitalize on him playing above his normal level needs to be taken. Niemi is 3-1-1 in his last five games after starting the season with a dismal 1-4-0.
The game is an early one - it'll be on at 11:30 a.m. in San Jose, and one has to wonder if that will have any effect on the Sharks. Coach Todd McLellan seems to think it shouldn't be much of an issue, but it almost always is something to consider in any pro sport these days.
Montreal is riding a bit of momentum following their 5 - 1 victory over the Devils, but have not had back-to-back wins in eight straight games. Their last back-to-back win streak was when they had four wins from November 9th to November 16th. Carey Price will be in goal for the Canadiens, coming off the Devils win in which he made 27 saves. All five of Montreal's goals in the game came from different players: Lars Eller, Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, Benoit Poullot, and Tom Pyatt all scored for the Habs.
The Canadiens' penalty killing unit is among the league's best, while the Sharks have been successful on three of their last four attempts with the man advantage, which will be one of the key matchups to watch Saturday. In the last four matchups between the two, they've split them with two home victories apiece.