A long homestand to start the season hasn’t gone quite the way the San Jose Sharks would have liked. Based on past history, it might end on a positive note.
The Sharks look to extend their dominance over the Montreal Canadiens when the teams meet on Tuesday night at San Jose in a matchup of two struggling offenses.
Including a sweep of the season series last December, the Sharks have taken eight of their past nine meetings with the Canadiens, including three straight shutouts between October 2013 and March 2015.
At SAP Center, San Jose has won 10 straight over the Canadiens since an overtime loss on March 23, 1999. Nine of the victories have come in regulation, and San Jose has allowed two goals or fewer six times.
This season, the Sharks, Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers are tied for 28th in the league with eight goals — one more than the Carolina Hurricanes, the only team that has played just three games.
The Habs (1-3-1) could be the perfect opponent to help San Jose (1-3-0) begin its climb up the Pacific Division standings. San Jose failed to build off its first win of the season, dropping a 3-1 decision to the New York Islanders on Saturday.
“We’re used to winning, that’s the expectation, and we’re not winning,” San Jose coach Pete DeBoer said. “If you see frustration, it’s because these guys expect to win every night.
“Throughout the lineup, that was the best game we played of the four. Despite the loss, I feel like we’re headed in the right direction.”
Kevin Labanc scored his team-leading third goal for the Sharks. The second-year right winger is the only player with more than one marker.
Perhaps most glaring is that San Jose is failing to score for long stretches during its losses. Against New York, the Sharks failed to beat Thomas Greiss over the final 55:44.
The Sharks failed to light up the scoreboard in the final 53:46 against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 7, and for the final 40:19 of the season opener versus the Philadelphia Flyers.
San Jose’s Brent Burns, who led all defensemen with 73 goals over the previous three seasons, was held without a point Saturday for the third straight game after registering an assist in the season opener.
“He’s getting some good looks.” DeBoer said of his top blue-liner. “Sure, he’s getting more attention. I don’t think it’s kept him from getting many good looks. He’s had a lot of shots, a lot of shot attempts, a lot of looks. They’re just not going in right now, but they will.”
Dating back to last season and including the playoffs, Burns has two goals and eight assists in 26 games.
Montreal is trying to avoid its first five-game skid since Jan. 9-19, 2016. Brendan Gallagher shaved his head, according to the Montreal Gazette, in an effort to change the team’s fortunes.
“It’s still early in the season, but we certainly want to start picking up a few more wins than we’ve been getting,” said Gallagher, who was 6 years old the last time Montreal won at the Shark Tank. “We have the group of guys in here to do it. It’s just a matter of going out there and executing.
“If we can all show up and do our jobs individually to help the team, hopefully we’ll get the result that we want.”
Gallagher needs one assist for 100 in his NHL career. He is one of seven Montreal players with one goal.
Claude Julien’s club begins a three-game California road trip after its 14-game winning streak over the Toronto Maple Leafs ended with a 4-3 loss in overtime on Saturday.
“We look at the way we played tonight and we played well enough,” Julien said. “The only thing I would say is when things aren’t going well, try and minimize the mistakes.
Canadiens goalie Carey Price is 1-3-1 with a 3.45 goals-against average and an .885 save percentage. He has never won in San Jose, posting an 0-4-1 mark with a 3.59 GAA and a .904 save percentage.
Backup Al Montoya has yet to start a game this season. He is 2-1-1 with a 1.97 GAA and a .928 save percentage in five career games against the Sharks.
Sharks goaltender Martin Jones has a 1-2-0 record with a 3.92 GAA and an .881 save percentage. He owns a 5-1-0 record with a 2.01 GAA and a .925 save percentage against Montreal.
San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced Saturday against the Islanders in his first start of the season.