While trying to get the NHL's most potent offense back on track, the San Jose Sharks found a way to pull out another close victory on their lengthy road trip.
San Jose also should be feeling good about the possible return of Dan Boyle on Sunday night when it looks to beat the Ottawa Senators for the seventh time in eight meetings.
Although they lead the league with 3.8 goals per game, the Sharks have managed just four goals over the first three games of this five-game swing.
Despite that lack of production, San Jose (9-1-1) continued its outstanding start with a 2-0 victory at Montreal on Saturday. It was the second win in three games on the trip and gave the Sharks a league-leading 19 points.
Logan Couture had both goals against the Canadiens, raising his total to six. Patrick Marleau and Tomas Hertl lead the Sharks with a combined 15 goals and 24 points, but Hertl's scoring drought reached six games Saturday.
Marleau and Hertl both scored to lead San Jose to a 3-2 victory over visiting Ottawa on Oct. 12. Marleau, who has a team-high eight goals, has been particularly productive against the Senators (4-4-2) with eight goals in his last seven meetings.
Getting Boyle back would surely provide a boost for San Jose's slumping offense. The team's top puck-moving defenseman hasn't played since he was taken off the ice on a stretcher after taking a hit from St. Louis' Maxim Lapierre on Oct. 15.
Although the goals have been coming less frequently of late for the Sharks, Antti Niemi's stellar play has continued. He notched his second shutout Saturday in his 11th consecutive start.
'When you're confident and when you can be patient, sometimes just wait for the puck to get to you, it gives you more time to react,' Niemi said. 'I'm feeling like that right now.'
Unless Alex Stalock makes his first NHL start, Niemi will face an Ottawa team that has totaled two goals on 63 shots while dropping its last two home games. In between those losses, the Senators set a season high for goals in a 6-1 win at Detroit on Wednesday.
Mika Zibanejad had the Senators' lone score in Friday's 2-1 loss to Anaheim.
'It's nice to get that confidence up and be able to contribute to the team with goals and good play, but it's a tough loss,' said Zibanejad, who has a point in each of his first two games since getting called up from the minors.
Captain Jason Spezza leads the Senators with seven goals and 10 points, while Bobby Ryan has added six and nine. Spezza and Ryan, however, have one goal in their last combined 11 games against the Sharks.
Backup Robin Lehner matched a franchise record with 47 saves in the earlier meeting, but Craig Anderson is expected to start after stopping 26 of 28 shots against the Ducks.
Anderson, 3-1-0 with a 1.99 GAA in his last four games, figures to be busy since San Jose averages a league-high 38.6 shots per game.
He'll try to help Ottawa snap a three-game home skid to the Sharks. The Senators haven't beaten them there since Dec. 19, 2002.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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