Vanek, Habs seek rare victory in San Jose
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Montreal Canadiens were unable to pick up a win in Thomas Vanek's debut, and the Habs hope to avoid a third loss in four games when they shoot for a rare win in San Jose on Saturday.
The Canadiens acquired Vanek from the New York Islanders just before Wednesday's trade deadline and the Austrian winger played his first game with Montreal in Thursday's 5-2 loss at Phoenix. Vanek failed to register a point and had one shot on net in the setback.
Vanek, a four-time 30-goal scorer, does have six goals in eight career games against the Sharks and he'll try to lead Montreal to its first win in San Jose since a 3-2 overtime win on Nov. 23, 1999.
The Habs have lost six in a row at the Shark Tank since that victory over 14 years ago and have dropped seven of the past 10 overall meetings in this series.
Although the Canadiens have lost two of their last three games, the club is currently in playoff position in the Eastern Conference thanks to its status as the second-place team in the Atlantic Division. The top three clubs in each division earn an automatic bid to the postseason and the Canadiens are currently three points ahead of third-place Toronto in the Atlantic.
The Canadiens were handed a 5-2 setback in the desert on Thursday, as Radim Vrbata scored two goals to help Phoenix snap a 14-game winless streak against the Canadiens.
Andrei Markov and Alex Galchenyuk had the goals for Montreal. Peter Budaj allowed five goals on 23 shots in defeat.
With No. 1 netminder Carey Price still on the shelf with a lower-body injury, the Habs could go with Budaj again tonight.
Montreal has a 17-13-2 record as the guest this season and is capping a four- game road trip tonight.
The Sharks, meanwhile, are 6-2-1 since the start of February and the second- place club in the Pacific Division is coming off Thursday's 5-3 home win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Brent Burns scored twice during San Jose's four-goal third period as the Sharks downed the top team in the Eastern Conference, beating the Pens for the 11th straight time on home ice.
Joe Pavelski assisted on three San Jose goals and Antti Niemi stopped 19 Pittsburgh shots. The Sharks trailed 2-0 after the first period, but cut that deficit to one by the end of 40 minutes before surging to the win in the final stanza.
"We got physical and that just totally turned the game," said Sharks captain Joe Thornton.
The Sharks are playing the third test of a four-game homestand on Saturday and will complete the stay at SAP Center with Tuesday's meeting against Toronto.
San Jose boasts a phenomenal 23-4-4 record on home ice this season.