MONTREAL (AP) — Mackenzie Blackwood made 33 shots and the NHL-worst San Jose Sharks snapped a 12-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
“It’s a little bit of weight off our shoulders for sure,” San Jose defenseman Mario Ferraro said.
Luke Kunin, Fabian Zetterlund, Nikita Okhotiuk also scored for San Jose.
“You don’t go through what we’ve been through and all of a sudden feel great about yourself, you got to earn it and we started earning it shift after shift, and that’s how we have to get out of this,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “We took a big step today and as we said, we’re 1-0.”
The Sharks improved to 9-29-3, winning for the first time since Dec. 12. They opened the season with an 11-game skid.
Brendan Gallagher and Mike Matheson scored for Montreal and Sam Montembeault made 32 saves. The Canadiens fell to 17-17-6 a night after falling 3-2 in a shootout in Philadelphia.
With the Canadiens down 3-1 entering the third period, jeers — and some sarcastic “Ole! Ole! chants — rained down from the home crowd.
“I don’t think they took the game, by any means,” Montreal defenseman Mike Matheson said. “I think what they got is what we gave to them and even with that we still had a chance to win, so it’s frustrating to let those two points go.”
Captain Nick Suzuki had a chance to bring Montreal within one on a short-handed breakaway midway through the frame, but Blackwood shut the door on a back-and-forth move.
The Canadiens pulled Montembeault with five minutes left for an extra attacker. After 1 1/2 minutes of sustained pressure, Matheson scored on a shot from the point with 3:34 left.
Kunin opened the scoring at 5:19 of the first after a turnover by Canadiens defenseman Jayden Struble. With his back turned in the corner, Struble blindly sent the puck in front of the net and onto Kunin’s stick.
Tomas Hertl set up Zetterlund in front with a slick feed from behind the net to make it 2-0 with 2:35 left in the period.
But Montreal responded 21 seconds later when Brendan Gallagher’s one-timer from the slot off a pass from Matheson beat Blackwood. Matheson got his 200th career point on the play.
Okhotiuk restored the two-goal lead with 3:16 left in the second. He finished off a feed from Mikael Granlund for his first goal of the season.
While the Canadiens were playing Philadelphia, the Sharks were enjoying a team dinner in Montreal and getting their minds off the lengthy losing streak.
“We were feeling pretty good about ourselves today prior to the game, and what happened on the ice was a reflection of that,” Ferraro said. “More positive, and leaning on each other a little bit more and finding the love in this game.
“Being on that little losing streak that we had, you kind of forget about the reason you play. We brought some light back to our locker room and that started away from the rink, and it goes a long way.”
Sharks: At Ottawa on Saturday.
Canadiens: Host Edmonton on Saturday night.
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