SAN JOSE, Calif. – Joe Thornton had two goals and two assists, and new Sharks defenceman Brian Campbell scored the final goal in San Jose’s sixth straight victory, 6-4 over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.
Enforcer Jody Shelley scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, while Jonathan Cheechoo and captain Patrick Marleau also scored as the Sharks added to their longest winning streak of the season. Evgeni Nabokov made 27 saves in San Jose’s first game back from an eight-game road trip.
Tomas Plekanec scored two goals and Ryan O’Byrne got his first NHL goal for the Canadiens, whose three-game winning streak was snapped in the opener of a four-game West Coast road trip. Carey Price made 33 saves in his worst performance since the Eastern Conference co-leaders traded Cristobal Huet to Washington, turning over their fortunes to the 20-year-old rookie goalie.
Though the Sharks are among the NHL’s best defensive teams, the clubs played a wide-open game featuring three ties before Shelley put the Sharks ahead 4-3 with his first goal of the season late in the second period. Cheechoo then scored early in the third.
San Jose survived Maxim Lapierre’s late goal and a Montreal power play before Campbell streaked down the right side for the final goal with 1:39 to play.
Sharks defenceman Craig Rivet had an early assist in his first game against the Canadiens, who traded Rivet to San Jose last spring for defenceman Josh Gorges, who started for Montreal. Campbell also looked good for the Sharks, six days after the Buffalo Sabres traded the two-time all-star to San Jose for forward Steve Bernier.
The Sharks were uncharacteristically sloppy, taking a handful of foolish penalties to aid Montreal’s vaunted power play. But it went 0-for-7, including its last attempt in the final four minutes.
The game was defence-free from the start. The Sharks scored in the opening minute when rookie Devin Setoguchi threaded a pass to Marleau, who hadn’t scored a goal since Feb. 6 in his hugely disappointing season. Montreal answered 2 1/2 minutes later when Plekanec tapped a rebound past Nabokov for his career-best 25th goal, but Thornton then banked in a shot from behind the Canadiens net.
O’Byrne, a rookie defenceman called up in early December, finally got his first goal in 22 games with a long slap shot through traffic late in the first period. Thornton put the Sharks back ahead in the second period with a 4-on-3 power-play goal for the 27th multigoal game of the former MVP’s career.
After Plekanec tied it again, Shelley scored his first goal since Feb. 25, 2007, when he rattled home a long shot from the blue line. Cheechoo then embarrassed Gorges with a spectacular move and a quick shot over Price’s shoulder, clinching his fourth straight 20-goal season.
Notes: Sharks C Jeremy Roenick missed the game with the flu. … San Jose F Tomas Plihal picked up his first NHL assist on Shelley’s goal. Plihal has played 16 games over two seasons. … Moments before Thornton’s power-play goal, he took a shot that bounced off Price – and the puck was left sitting on its edge squarely on the goal line before a Montreal defenseman cleared it.