San Jose Sharks Visit Montreal Searching For A Win

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The San Jose Sharks are a reeling hockey club having lost their past six games, and boasting a winless record during the month of December. The Sharks will be searching for that first victory tonight as they travel to Montreal to take on the Canadiens, who are one of the best teams in the East. Currently, Montreal leads the Atlantic Division with 43 points, but the Sharks might be catching the Canadiens at the right time as they have endured their own losing streak, having lost four of their past five games.

The Sharks will have their work cut out for them in this one as they face a Canadiens team that is sound in all phases of the game. Montreal ranks second in goals per game (3.19), fourth in goals against per game (2.23), 10th on the power play (20.4 percent) and third on the penalty kill (86.7 percent).

Needless to say, it won’t be an easy matchup for San Jose as they kick off their five-game road trip searching for any kind of answers that will lead to a victory.

Players to Watch

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Sharks: Martin Jones. If you’re going to snap a long losing streak, San Jose is going to need to rely upon their goaltender. Jones certainly hasn’t been the problem for the Sharks as he’s posted a 12-10-1 record with a 2.29 GAA and a .918 save percentage. His numbers are even better on the road where Jones is 9-3-1 with a 1.98 GAA and a .930 save percentage. He will need to come up big tonight as he faces the league’s number two offense.

Canadiens: Max Pacioretty. Many people out West might know little about Pacioretty, but the American forward is having himself quite the season in Montreal. The former first-round pick leads the Canadiens with 14 goals and is second on the team with 26 points. He scored the game-winner for Montreal last time out which snapped the Canadiens four-game losing streak. For many Sharks fans, this could be their first look at the 27-year-old forward, and San Jose will need to key on him whenever he’s on the ice.

Keys to the Game

1. Find a Rhythm

Peter DeBoer has been searching for a spark by juggling his forward lines and he’s doing so once again before this game. He’s reunited Joe Pavleksi and Joe Thornton, while putting Tomas Hertl as the other winger. The Sharks need to find a rhythm to their game where they are breaking out cleanly of their defensive zone, and making sharp passes that allow them to attack offensively. Also, when the scoring chances arise, San Jose needs to do a better job of capitalizing on their opportunities.

2. Sound On Defense

The Sharks have been a mixed bag on the defensive end of the ice all season long as they often experience lapses throughout the game. Last game was a perfect example as Brent Burns left Zach Parise all alone in front as he scored the game-winner. San Jose must limit the defensive zone mistakes and be strong in front of Jones tonight. Speaking of Burns, he must be better defensively as he sports the league’s second-worst plus/minus rating at -15.

3. It All Starts With One

Everyone knows how well San Jose did on their last extended road trip when they went a perfect 6-0. However, in order to duplicate that feat, the Sharks need to find a way to win tonight. Get that first victory under your belts and build some momentum throughout the trip. It doesn’t matter how it happens, just secure the two points and start feeling better about your game.

Next: San Jose Finds Themselves In Familiar Position

TV/Radio

TV: CSN-California (4:30 p.m. PST)

Radio: 98.5 KFOX