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Blackwood's heroics help Sharks beat Canadiens to end 12-game skid

Mackenzie Blackwood and Joel Armia Montreal Canadiens San Jose Sharks Mackenzie Blackwood and Joel Armia - The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — The San Jose Sharks are feeling relieved after winning a hockey game for the first time in nearly a month.

Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 33 shots, and the last-place Sharks snapped a 12-game losing streak by defeating the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 at Bell Centre.

“It feels really good,” said defenceman Mario Ferraro. “It's a little bit of weight off our shoulders for sure."

Ferraro believes the Sharks put the wheels in motion for a breakthrough victory the night before.

While the Canadiens were playing Philadelphia, the Sharks were enjoying a team dinner in Montreal and getting their minds off the lengthy losing streak.

"We were feeling pretty good about ourselves today prior to the game, and what happened on the ice was a reflection of that,” he said. “(We were) more positive, and leaning on each other a little bit more and finding the love in this game.

"Being on that little losing streak that we had, you kind of forget about the reason you play. We brought some light back to our locker room and that started away from the rink, and it goes a long way."

Luke Kunin, Fabian Zetterlund, Nikita Okhotiuk scored for San Jose (10-29-3), which won its first game since Dec. 12.

Brendan Gallagher and Josh Anderson replied for Montreal (17-18-6) on the second night of a back-to-back, while Sam Montembeault made 32 saves.

The Canadiens were lucky to leave Philadelphia with a point Wednesday after being heavily outplayed in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Flyers.

On this night, the Canadiens felt they gave the Sharks a victory.

“I don’t think they took the game, by any means,” defenceman Mike Matheson said. “I think what they got is what we gave to them and even with that we still had a chance to win, so it’s frustrating to let those two points go.”

With the Canadiens down 3-1 entering the third, jeers — and some sarcastic “Ole, Ole, Ole” chants — rained down from the home crowd during the period.

After a minute-and-a-half of sustained pressure, Matheson’s point shot with the extra attacker deflected off Anderson at 16:26 to make it a one-goal game and bring the crowd to life.

Blackwood then held firm for the final frantic few minutes as Montreal pressed with chance after chance with the goalie pulled to secure the win.

The Canadiens didn’t pat themselves on the back for their late push.

“Even if we win tonight, it wouldn’t be progress,” Martin St. Louis said. “We have a very honest group. We need to attack that, tighten up our d-zone. We'll talk about it. Our execution has to be better.”

The Sharks spent most of the first period in their own zone, but led 2-1 after 20 minutes.

"That was huge, because it gave us a chance to feel good about ourselves, which we haven't had an opportunity to do for a long time,” Quinn said.

Kunin opened the scoring at 5:19 after a critical turnover by Canadiens defenceman Jayden Struble.

Tomas Hertl set up Zetterlund in front with a slick feed from behind the net to make it 2-0 at 17:25.

Montreal responded 21 seconds later as Brendan Gallagher’s one-timer from the slot off a pass from Matheson beat Blackwood. Matheson earned his 200th career point on the play.

But the Sharks took control of play in the second and outshot the Canadiens 17-9.

"You don't go through what we've been through and all of a sudden feel great about yourself, you gotta earn it and we started earning it shift after shift, and that's how we have to get out of this,” Sharks head coach David Quinn said. “We took a big step today and as we said, we're 1-0."

Okhotiuk restored the two-goal lead by sneaking back door at 16:44 of the second and San Jose hung on in the third.

"It's nice to win,” defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. “We need more wins than just the one but it's a good start."

The Canadiens were feeling a little different after two straight tough losses.

“I've seen this group go through big stretches of playing the game,” St, Louis said. “We've gotten away from the game and we need to get back to playing the game.”


Canadiens: Host the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

Sharks: Visit the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2024.