Desperate Sharks head to Montreal

( - The San Jose Sharks will continue a lengthy road trip Saturday, as the desperate club hopes to make it two wins in a row when it takes on the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens.

The Sharks are two games into a seven-game swing which matches the club's longest trip of the season. They dropped a 5-2 decision in Winnipeg to begin the trek on Tuesday, but rebounded with Thursday's 4-1 victory over the Maple Leafs.

Although the game against the Jets was San Jose's only matchup against a conference opponent during the trip, the Sharks still hope to pick up ground in the Western Conference playoff race. Winnipeg holds the West's final wild card spot with 84 points, six more than the Sharks, who also sit five behind Calgary for the third and final automatic postseason bid from the Pacific Division.

Tonight's opponent is leading the Atlantic with 97 points, which gives the Canadiens a two-point lead over Tampa Bay for the top spot in the division. The Habs also lead the East in points and are two in back of Anaheim for the top spot in the overall NHL standings.

Antti Niemi made 27 saves to anchor the win over lowly Toronto, while Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture, Melker Karlsson and Tommy Wingels scored the San Jose goals.

"You can't look too far ahead and you're definitely not looking behind you. You've just got to stay in the moment. Enjoy this, but get ready tomorrow and then get ready for the next day," Sharks center Joe Thornton said of the playoff run.

San Jose is 18-12-3 as the visiting team this season and will continue its trip Monday night in Ottawa.

The Canadiens allowed Tampa Bay to forge a tie for first place in the Atlantic on Monday, when the Lightning recorded a 4-2 home win. However, Montreal regained sole possession of the division lead by following that setback with two straight wins.

Montreal recorded a 3-2 road victory over Florida on Tuesday and then notched a 4-0 win Thursday night against visiting Carolina.

Carey Price made 31 saves for his eighth shutout of the season to anchor the win over the Hurricanes. Price, who turned aside 16 shots in the third period alone, leads the NHL with a career-high 39 wins. He is tied for second in the league in shutouts and is one behind Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury.

Max Pacioretty and Dale Weise each had a goal and an assist to help the Canadiens snap a two-game home losing streak.

"We had a good start to the game and imposed our rhythm," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said.

Montreal is 23-8-5 as the host this season and will try to use home-ice advantage to halt a four-game slide in the series with the Sharks. The Habs had won three straight at home versus San Jose, but the Sharks halted that streak with a 2-0 win on Oct. 26 of last season.