Series (Game 1 of 2)

San Jose leads 2-0

Game 1: Tuesday, December 17th
Game 2: Thursday, March 6th

Sharks 3

(13-13-3, 31 pts)

Canadiens 1

(14-12-2, 34 pts)

7:30 PM ET, December 17, 2002

Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 13
MTL 0 0 11

P. Marleau (Sharks - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

E. Nabokov (Sharks - G): Saves: 23, Save Pct.: .958

D. Gilmour (Canadiens - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Sharks win for fifth time in seven games

MONTREAL (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks were eager to put a difficult road trip on the right track.

Patrick Marleau

Patrick Marleau had a goal and an assist, and Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves to lead San Jose to a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.

The Sharks, who play in Ottawa on Thursday, began their five-game road trip with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Rangers on Monday.

"Tonight, it was a good effort,'' forward Teemu Selanne said. "Everybody did their job and we found a way to win the game. We still have a lot of goals that we want to achieve on this road trip. It's a tough one, but now that we have a new coach, I think there are a lot of things that we want to learn and I think it's good to be on the road and learn together.''

Mike Rathje opened the scoring with his fifth goal just 28 seconds in, and Selanne also scored for San Jose, which won for the fifth time in seven games (5-1-0-1) to improve to 13-13-2-3. The Sharks have earned points in all but one game since coach Ron Wilson took over for the fired Darryl Sutter (4-1-0-1).

"I thought the key was getting off to a fast start,'' Wilson said. "We had an excellent first period and that set the tone.''

With the Sharks leading 1-0 after outshooting Montreal 10-4 in the first, Marleau added his 14th at 14:47 of the second to increase the lead to two.

Nabokov, who shut out Washington in his last start Saturday for his first shutout of the season, held Montreal scoreless until Doug Gilmour scored his sixth goal 5:52 into the third.

Marleau set up Selanne's 16th with 6:16 remaining to restore San Jose's two-goal lead. Marleau has 26 points in 31 games, one fewer than Vincent Damphousse's team-leading 27 points.

"He has all the tools to be a great player,'' Selanne said of Marleau. "He's only 23 years old and he's just getting better.''

The Canadiens, who won 3-2 in Ottawa on Monday, had won four of five.

"I think Nabokov played a great game,'' Montreal goalie Jeff Hackett said. "It was a tough game out there for both teams.''

San Jose got off to a quick start as Rathje beat Hackett over his left shoulder with a shot into the top right corner of the net.

Marleau made it 2-0 when he scored an unassisted goal just 14 seconds after serving a goalie interference penalty in the second period. He broke down the left side and sped around defenseman Craig Rivet. Marleau cut across the goalmouth and flipped a shot past Hackett into the right side of the net.

Gilmour, who earned his 1,400th career point with a goal Monday, got his second in as many games early in the third to bring Montreal within 2-1.

Selanne put the game away at 13:44 when he took Marleau's 2-on-1 pass after Gilmour turned over the puck in the neutral zone and beat Hackett inside the left post.

"Something was wrong tonight -- I just wasn't comfortable,'' Hackett said. "I could have been better.''

Game notes

Damphousse, who was held pointless, celebrated his 35th birthday. Damphousse won a Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1993 and was the team's captain when he was traded to San Jose on March 23, 1999. ... Gilmour has four goals and five assists in his last eight games. ... Canadiens RW Oleg Petrov left the game after injuring his right knee in the second period. Petrov did not return and will have an MRI on Wednesday.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press