Sharks seek skid-stopping win against Canadiens
The Canadiens (12-9-5) ended a five-game losing streak with a 5-2 home win over the New York Rangers on Saturday.
The Sharks (12-10-5), meanwhile, lost 6-2 to the Senators in defensemen Erik Karlsson’s emotional return to Ottawa, where he was captain for the past four seasons. San Jose, which suffered its fourth loss in a row (0-3-1), will be attempting to avoid going winless on its five-game road trip.
“We’re struggling right now,” Karlsson told NHL.com. “You’re going to go through periods of this throughout the year. We’re going through it right now and we’re going to have to sort a lot of things out.”
After acquiring Karlsson, a two-time Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s top defenseman on the eve of training camp, the Sharks were viewed as a Stanley Cup contender, but they are off to a mediocre start and sat outside the playoff picture after their loss Saturday.
“It’s been tough to stop it right now. We’re finding ways to lose,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski told NHL.com. “It’s just a breakdown here or there, and then something happens. We’ve been trailing in a lot of these games, so we’ll get back to finding ways to start the game off with a goal and get the lead and try to build on that.”
Improving their penalty killing would help. The Sharks have given up five power-play goals on 13 chances during their losing streak.
The Canadiens moved into the second wild-card position in the Eastern Conference with their win Saturday. They got goals from unexpected sources: two from captain Shea Weber, who was playing just his second game of the season after offseason knee and ankle surgery, and forward Artturi Lehkonen, who doubled his season output.
“The biggest thing is winning,” Weber, who has his 18th multi-goal game of his career (but his first in almost a year) told montrealcanadiens.com. “You help out by scoring goals or stopping goals, whichever way it is. Coming in here after this and getting two points is the part I definitely missed the most.”
The presence of Weber, one of the most imposing defensemen in the game, is having an immediate impact for the Canadiens.
“It’s fairly obvious what he does for our group,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien told Sportsnet. “When you look at what happened tonight, you got your captain that sets the tone. He’s got two big goals. From there, we kind of took it over. … At the end of the day, you need those guys (the team’s best players) to come up big and they did.”
Both of Weber’s goals came in the first period against the Rangers. The second came with six seconds left in the first period and gave the Canadiens a 2-0 lead.
The Canadiens got top-six forward Paul Byron back against the Rangers. He had missed 14 games with a lower-body injury. They placed forward Nikita Scherbak on waivers Saturday afternoon and will find out at noon Sunday if he has been claimed.
Scherbak was the No. 26 pick in the 2014 NHL draft, but he has played just 29 games with the Canadiens with five goals and two assists.