Just a few months after making a storybook run to the Stanley Cup Final, the Montreal Canadiens find themselves in a completely different scenario heading into a Thursday night road game against the San Jose Sharks.
Following an embarrassing 5-1 loss at Seattle on Tuesday night — the first home win in franchise history for the expansion Kraken — Montreal has won just once in its first seven games this season, and its two points are the fewest in the Eastern Conference.
The Canadiens are also tied with Arizona for the fewest goals in the league with 11. And next up is a game in San Jose, where they have dropped 11 in a row (0-9-2) in the regular season dating back to a 3-2 overtime victory in 1999.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to find a way,” Montreal forward Josh Anderson said after Tuesday’s loss. “We’ve got to get ourselves together here.”
They will try to start the turnaround against a Sharks team that blanked them 5-0 on Oct. 19 in Montreal. In that contest, San Jose’s Adin Hill made 21 saves and Jonathan Dahlen scored his first two NHL goals during a first period that saw San Jose jump out to a quick 3-0 lead.
Defense has also been a major issue during the slow start for the Canadiens, who have surrendered 25 goals in seven games. Seattle had scored a total of six goals in its previous four games before cruising to the 5-1 win on Tuesday.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Montreal defenseman Ben Chiarot said. “Kind of right from the beginning they had us on our heels. We knew coming into the rink they were going to be excited. Second game in their own arena, tough travel coming all the way across the country, time change, a lot of factors that come into play. But bottom line is they outskated us the whole game.
“We just looked a little out of sorts, not on the same page. We give the other team too much time and too much space to skate and that gets us on our heels, gets us running around. That seems to be a common theme when we have these kind of games.”
San Jose is opening a five-game homestand after going 3-2 on a five-game road trip that began with the win at Montreal. The Sharks dropped the final two games of the trip, including a 3-1 defeat at Nashville on Tuesday.
“It was a good road trip. Could have been a lot better,” San Jose forward Logan Couture said. “Unfortunately, we had spurts in the last two games where we didn’t play our style of hockey, and it bit us.”
Perhaps even more impressive about the good start for the Sharks is the fact that it has been done without Evander Kane, who had team highs with 22 goals and 49 points in 56 games last season. Kane was suspended for the first 21 games of the season by the NHL after submitting a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.
“There’s a lot of good things and I’m trying to see the positives with this group,” San Jose coach Bob Boughner said. “It’s early in the season, we’re 4-2 after playing five out of six on the road. It’s a pretty good spot to be in coming home for five games.”
–Field Level Media