SAN JOSE – The good vibes that surrounded the Sharks through the first week of the season feel like a distant memory as a four-game winning streak has now given way to a three-game losing skid.
The Sharks allowed a first-period goal to Mike Hoffman and second-period goals to Alexander Romanov and Brendan Gallagher in what turned into a 4-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, who earned their first victory at SAP Center in over 20 years.
The Sharks peppered Canadiens goalie Jake Allen with 25 shots through two periods, with 13 coming on the power play. Allen finished with 45 saves as the Canadiens snapped their 12-game losing streak in San Jose, a skid that dated back to Nov. 23, 1999.
The Sharks were playing their first game back at home after a five-game road trip that saw them win games in Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto to start, followed by losses in Boston and Nashville.
“I thought we were sloppy at the beginning of the game,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. “You’re always in that catch game when you’re coming back west. I was wondering how we were going to come out and it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t our best.”
A power play could have made a big difference Thursday for the Sharks. But despite 13 shots on net, they went 0-for-4 with the man advantage and are now 0-for-12 on the power play over the last four games.
“That’s the way it’s going to go sometimes,” said Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson, who had six shots. “I don’t think we sustained or played very well early in the year when we scored goals. Now it’s a little bit the other way around.”
The Sharks host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday in the second game of a five-game homestand. The Sharks announced that just 11,463 tickets were sold for Thursday’s game, one of the smallest amounts for an NHL game in the nearly 30-year history of the downtown arena.
San Jose started the season with wins over Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto, allowing just seven goals along the way and showing that their meat-and-potatoes approach could lead to success. They had an opportunity Thursday at the start of their homestand to show that the four-game win streak wasn’t a fluke.
But the Sharks had to chase the game Hoffman scored at even strength at the 12:09 mark of the first period. The Sharks also failed to capitalize on two power-play tries in the opening 20 minutes.
Romanov gave the Canadiens a 2-0 lead at the 8:53 mark of the second period, as his wrist shot from inside the blue line found its way past Sharks goalie Adin Hill, who finished with 28 saves.
“That was a big goal for them,” Boughner said. “At that point, we’re outshooting them (9-3) in the second period and they got shot off from the blue line off of a face-off, so now you’re down 2-0.
“Our power play is generating shots and chances. We’re just not getting a bounce.”
The Sharks had won 10 straight games against the Canadiens, home and away, before Thursday, with the most recent being a 5-0 victory at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Oct. 19. Adin Hill made 21 saves for his fourth career shutout and his first with the Sharks.
The Sharks felt, though, that they would get a stiff challenge from the visitors after they were spanked 5-1 by the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday to drop to 1-6-1.
“They’re a team that hasn’t gotten off the start they wanted, a team that we beat in their building so they’re going want revenge and play a lot better than they have to start the season,” Couture said. “They’re a dangerous team. They’ve got a lot of skill up-front. We’re going to have to be better than we have been the last couple of games to beat them.”
Up until Thursday, San Jose had received excellent production from its top line of Couture, Timo Meier, and Jonathan Dahlen, which had scored seven of the Sharks’ 13 non-special teams goals. Couture and Meier both carried six-game point streaks into Thursday.
NOTES: Forward Matt Nieto missed Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury after he blocked a shot in Tuesday’s game in Nashville. Nieto is considered day-to-day.