MONTREAL – Timo Meier’s NHL debut was a success both for the player, and for his team.
Meier scored on his first career shot, while Patrick Marleau, David Schlemko and Melker Karlsson also added goals in San Jose’s 4-2 win at Bell Centre on Friday night.
The Sharks improved to 3-0 on their four-game road trip, which concludes on Sunday in Chicago. They have won four games in a row, and seven of their last 10 overall (7-3-0) to remain in first place in the Pacific Division.
Meier’s score upped San Jose’s lead to 3-0 in the first period, and was the game-winner. Joonas Donskoi worked the puck back to David Schlemko at the point, and Meier got in front of the net to swipe in the rebound of Schlemko’s blast on his backhand at 13:18.
A pair of power play goals staked the Sharks a 2-0 lead before that.
Schlemko’s first goal as a Shark at 8:50 opened the scoring. The defenseman, who has had plenty of shots this season but no goals, took advantage of Kevin Labanc screening Carey Price and hammered it through.
About two minutes later, Joe Thornton patiently waited behind the net for Marleau to present his stick, and Marleau slammed in the dish from his longtime teammate at the nine-minute mark.
The Sharks outshot the Habs 15-4 in the first period in a dominant 20 minutes.
The onslaught continued early in the second with a goal from the fourth line. Micheal Haley found Karlsson in the slot, and on his second whack at the puck Karlsson chipped it through Price at 6:44.
Al Montoya replaced Price at that point, after the Vezina Trophy frontrunner allowed four goals on 18 shots.
The Sharks were decidedly sluggish after that, registering just five shots on goal after Price’s exit and letting the Canadiens back into the game.
Montreal broke through on the scoreboard when Bryan Flynn finished off a cross-ice pass from Tomas Plekanec on a rush at 10:32 of the third period, making it 4-1. Jeff Petry’s soft wrist shot from high in the zone brought the Canadiens back to within 4-2, deflecting off of Martin Jones’ glove after making its way through a maze of bodies at 13:48.
The Canadiens kept up the pressure, but Jones stopped Max Pacioretty with 50 seconds to go and San Jose held on.
The Sharks improved to 13-4-0 in their last 17 meetings with Montreal, and swept the two-game season series. San Jose is 13-6-0 this season against the Eastern Conference.
Montreal entered the game as the stingiest team in the league on home ice, allowing just 1.59 goals-per game.
The Sharks power play had been just 1-for-25 on the road in its last seven games, but finished Friday 2-for-5.
Montreal was 0-for-3 on the power play.
Jones made 26 saves, and has won all three games on the road trip, the previous two wins coming in a shootout. He’s 16-10-1 on the year, and 5-1-0 in his career against Montreal.
Price took just his second loss in regulation at home this season (13-2-2), and was pulled for the first time since Oct. 13, 2014, according to the Journal de Montreal. He’s just 2-6-1 in his career against San Jose.
Montoya stopped all five shots he saw.
Logan Couture, who didn’t finish Wednesday’s game after getting cross-checked in the head by Mike Hoffman, was fine to play. Earlier in the day, Hoffman was issued a two-game suspension for the play, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic was fined $5,000 for spearing Erik Karlsson in the same game.
Donskoi returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch in Ottawa on Wednesday, and tallied a pair of assists.
Joel Ward, who had played in all 30 games with two goals and nine points, was a healthy scratch for the first time.
Montreal remained without top line center Alex Galchenyuk, who will miss the next five-to-seven weeks with a knee injury.
The Sharks will conclude their road trip in Chicago against the Blackhawks, who led the NHL with 44 points (20-8-4) as of Friday. On Nov. 23 at SAP Center, San Jose beat Chicago, 2-1.
Calgary visits the Shark Tank on Tuesday, Dec. 20.