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Mr Smith comes to San Jose
Newest Shark leaves good impression in SJ debut
3/2/15 - By Mike Lee -

They were all supposed to be this fun. When the Sharks embarked on the 2014-15 season, they had visions of dismantling teams with ease, much like Monday night's goal-fest against visiting Montreal Canadiens. They haven't all been that easy. In fact, the majority of games have been quite the opposite. Fresh off the trade deadline events earlier in the day, the Sharks let their hair down and man-handled the Canadiens 4-0 at SAP Center.

Hours after Andrew Desjardins, James Sheppard and Tyler Kennedy were traded to separate teams, the Sharks skated to a victory on home ice for the first time in nine tries.

Part of the Sharks dominance could be attributed to newly acquired forward Ben Smith's performance, which was yeoman to say the least. Smith jumped on a plane from Chicago after learning that he had been dealt by the Blackhawks for Desjardins, and arrived in time to join the lineup. Smith cut it close, not even have time to join the warm-up skate which takes place 30 minutes before the opening faceoff.

Smith met most of his new teammates while warming up on a stationary bike in the Sharks locker room. He may be on to a new pre-game ritual, because after his hectic travel itinerary, he went out and scored a goal and added an assist in his first game in teal.

The 300th player to wear a Sharks jersey got the Sharks on the scoreboard 6:51 into the game when he tipped a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot past Canadiens goaltender Carey Price for his 6th goal of the season. Smith had been limited to a single point in his last 28 games for Chicago, which may have hasted the Blackhawks to jettison him earlier in the day.

"It was nice to start that way," said Smith. "Hopefully that can continue here. Any way I can help this team win some games and move forward is something I'm going to try to do everyday."

He just missed on a second goal later in the game, tipping another point shot that Price had to smother as it bounced off the ice.

"There was an energy to the team that we haven't seen in a while," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan in reference to Smith. "I think some of that had to do with Ben Smith coming in and scoring right off the bat. He energized everybody. It's one game and we're pleased."

The Canadiens got themselves into penalty trouble late in the 1st period, when Lars Eller took a tripping penalty 14 seconds before a Tomas Plekanec holding infraction was scheduled to expire. Plekanec was able to rejoin the action, but Joe Pavelski made it a 2-0 game 47 seconds before the 1st break, by redirecting a Brent Burns blast from the left point on the Eller power play. Pavelski and Patrick Marleau collapsed on the net as Burns' shot arrived. The goal was Pavelski's 32nd of the season and 17th on the power play.

Matt Irwin made it a 3-0 Sharks lead 6:28 into the 2nd period, courtesy of helpers form Tommy Wingels and Smith. The Sharks defenseman ripped a shot from the same spot as Burns earlier in the game, finding a gap between Price and the right post. Smith setup the goal with a pass earlier in the sequence, but he contributed more by creating a distraction in front of Price.

"They were sharp tonight, in all areas they were really sharp and we weren't," added Canadiens defenseman PK Subban. "We weren't good enough tonight and against a team like that you can't afford to not be sharp and not be ready to play; they were ready right from the puck drop and we knew they were going to come out hard - they have a reputation of coming out hard in the first 10 minutes - and once you get that first goal it's just tough - it's tough on the road. For us we know we have to be sharper, we know we have to be better. Have we played a lot of good hockey this year (and of late), yes, but you know it's always tough to play these types of games - it's not fun."

Montreal came closest to scoring 12 minutes into the 3rd period when David Desharnais punched a rebound behind Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock. The puck straddled the goal line, but replays confirmed that Burns swept the puck safely away.

Devante Smith-Pelly was sent off later in the period for gloving the puck over the glass, setting up the Sharks 3rd power play of the night. Marleau scored his 3rd consecutive power play goal in as many games by redirecting a Pavelski feed from the doorstep with just under 7 minutes to play.

The win not only snapped the Sharks long home losing streak, but it also extended the Sharks dominance over the Canadiens in California. Montreal hasn't won in San Jose since 1999. The shutout also extended the Canadiens goalless streak against San Jose. Montreal was shutout by the Sharks in their two meetings last season.

"Tonight, first of all you have to give a lot of credit to the Sharks, they were really aggressive and for us it seemed like we had no energy tonight," said Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien. "I thought our team was drained and it always happens this time of the season depending on a lot of things and tonight was one of those nights for us." "Because we had no energy; was it because of the traveling or the time change, not quite sure the reason why but when the energy isn't there it's really difficult to play with that type of aggressiveness."





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Scoring
1 2 3 T
MTL 0 0 0 0
SJ 2 1 1 4
1st period - 1, SJ, Smith 6 (Hertl, Vlasic), 6:52. 2, SJ, Pavelski 32 (Burns, Thornton), 19:13, (pp).
2nd period - 3, SJ, Irwin 7 (Wingels, Smith), 6:28.
3rd period - 4, SJ, Marleau 15 (Pavelski, Couture), 13:07, (pp).
Penalties
1st period - Plekanec, MTL (holding), 16:50; Eller, MTL (tripping), 18:36.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - Smith-Pelly, MTL (delay of game - puck over glass), 11:34; Scott, SJ (10 min misconduct), 15:24.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
MTL - Price 37 33
SJ - Stalock 20 20
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
MTL 8 5 7 20
SJ 13 11 13 37
Power Play Conversion
MTL 0 of 0
SJ 2 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Alex Stalock
Ben Smith
Joe Pavelski
Attendance
17,236
Officials
Referees: Watson, Morton. Linesmen: Miller, Sharrers.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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