If one thing has hurt the Sharks in their losses this season, it’s been giving up too many grade-A chances to the opposition.
In their Sunday night win over the Montreal Canadiens, Team Teal put up one of its best efforts of the season in keeping those chances to a minimum.
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“The odd-man rushes that have been hurting us,” Sharks goaltender Martin Jones complimented after Sunday’s win. “I thought we did a great job tonight.”
The Sharks' defense -- not just the blue line but from the forward lines as well –-- was an ever-present force against the Habs. It was a vast improvement for a team currently ranked second in the NHL in giving up goals on high-danger chances. On Sunday, they registered 22 blocked shots to accompany the staggering 40 of 41 chances Montreal hurled Jones’ way en route to allowing the Canadiens to score only one goal.
“Guys put their bodies on the line a little bit tonight,” Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said. “There were some big blocks ... and when we did have a breakdown, [Jones] was great. It all added up to a win tonight.”
In a rebound performance all his own, Jones put together a highlight reel of saves in Montreal, and stood particularly tall in the final few minutes when the Habs got a late-game power-play opportunity and threatened to capitalize on it. The victory helped him improve to 7-1-0 in his career against Montreal, with a 1.88 goals-against average and .935 save percentage.
Even with a high number of shots coming his way, Jones told the media he’ll take getting peppered with shots over having too many odd-man rushes coming at him any day.
“That’s a much more manageable game,” he explained. “I thought we did a great job eliminating those grade-A’s and those odd-man rushes that have been causing us some problems.”
Of course, the Sharks know they still have some things on which they want to improve. After a tough road trip, San Jose has to keep the momentum going past this one game.
The Sharks will have the opportunity to do that when they return to home ice for a rematch with the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.