Niemi, Sharks beat Canadiens 4-0
- Article by: JOSH DUBOW
- Associated Press
- March 9, 2014 - 12:05 AM
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Tommy Wingels scored two goals and Antti Niemi shut Montreal out for the second time this season in the San Jose Sharks 4-0 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday night.
Matt Nieto also scored and Logan Couture had a goal and two assists for the Sharks, who have won seven straight home games against Montreal since last losing here to the Canadiens in 1999.
Niemi made 27 saves to follow up his 2-0 victory in Montreal in October with another shutout.
Peter Budaj was knocked out after allowing two goals in less than 22 minutes as Montreal lost for the third time in four games on a road trip to Arizona and California. The Canadiens hope to have gold medal-winning goalie Carey Price back from a lower-body injury on their upcoming homestand that begins Wednesday night against Boston.
San Jose took control of the game in a dominant second period, getting goals from Wingels and Nieto in the first half of the period to go up 3-0.
Wingels' second goal of the game came when he deflected a point shot from Matt Nieto and led coach Michel Therrien to give an early hook to Budaj, who allowed two goals on the first 11 shots.
The change to Dustin Tokarski failed to generate the spark Therrien was seeking as the Sharks continued to attack with the two-goal lead and expanded it when Patrick Marleau set up Nieto for a one-timer from the slot midway through the period.
Nieto set up Couture for his 18th goal in the opening minute of the third period to put the game out of reach.
Niemi, making consecutive starts for the first time since Feb. 1-3, was not tested often but was up to the task when challenged, including an early pad save on P.K. Subban and on a short-handed breakaway by Tomas Plekanec late in the third.
Niemi has struggled a bit of late and had his playing time cut back as San Jose started backup Alex Stalock in three of the first four games after the Olympic break. But he followed up a 5-3 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday night with another shutout against the Canadiens.
The Sharks got a fortunate break to take a 1-0 lead early in the first period with James Sheppard in the penalty box for tripping. Couture shot the puck in from center ice that got caught between Budaj's pads. When Budaj stood up to look for the puck, Wingels came racing in and poked it into the net for San Jose's second short-handed goal in as many games.
The Sharks weren't nearly as effective on their three power plays that included 21 seconds of a two-man advantage. They struggled to get set up in the offensive zone and were sloppy with their passes, generating only one shot on goal in those three opportunities.
The power play has been a problem for San Jose in recent weeks with the team going 2-for-48 over the past 15 games.
NOTES: Sharks F Raffi Torres got called for boarding on a hard shoulder check into Lars Eller in the second period. Jarred Tinordi took exception and started a fight, negating any power play for the Canadiens. ... Montreal D Douglas Murray got a warm ovation in his first game back in San Jose since being traded by the Sharks to Pittsburgh last March. He delivered an early hit on Nieto and also was on the receiving end of one from Brent Burns.
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