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Kahkonen stops 28 shots, Sharks blank Canadiens 4-0

MONTREAL (AP) — Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 28 shots for his first shutout for San Jose and the Sharks beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 on Tuesday night.

“It’s great, but it also tells how we’ve played as a team,” Kahkonen said. “Huge blocks, huge (penalty) kills, good sticks on the PK and boxing out guys so I could see pucks, so huge thanks to the guys in front of me.”

Tomas Hertl scored twice in the third period, including an empty-netter. Matt Nieto and Logan Couture also scored as the Sharks opened a four-game set against Eastern Conference teams by snapping a three-game losing streak.

Kahkonen re-signed with the Sharks in the summer after playing 36 games last season for Minnesota and San Jose. After a convincing 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 21, he had allowed four or more goals in four of his last five games. Filling in for injured starter James Reimer, Kahkonen recorded his first shutout since March 16, 2021.

“I think he’s really confident because he’s building off the game in Ottawa,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “He played OK in Seattle, but to come back and play the way he did today, I think it’s just another step in the right direction for him. And it was a big step tonight.”

“Honestly, I feel so happy for him,” added Sharks forward Tomas Hertl. “He was great and that’s kind of what we need from him in the back. He looked confident and that he made good plays on PK and it wasn’t easy because we gave up some chances but it was a really, really strong game from him.”

Jake Allen made 20 saves for Montreal, which was 0 for 6 on the power play against San Jose’s league-leading penalty kill unit.

“It’s a bit of everything,” said Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis. “We’ll look at the video and we’ll learn lessons for this game, (the power play) was the difference tonight.”

“Maybe we just had to be in better spots for the low plays, I think we had a few chances to try and take it to the net,” added Montreal forward Nick Suzuki. “I kept watching it on the iPad, trying to figure out things during the game. I mean, I don’t know how many chances we had on the power play but we had enough for us to score for sure.”

The Sharks opened the scoring at 1:33 of the first period when winger Alexander Barabanov attempted a wraparound and Nieto zoomed into the crease and tapped the puck in off a rebound.

Montreal coach Martin St. Louis challenged the play for offside, but video review confirmed that Barabanov was onside in the lead-up and the goal stood.

In the second, Canadiens forward Christian Dvorak appeared to beat Kahkonen to tie the game, but the goal was called off. The referee indicated that Montreal winger Evgenii Dadonov took an interference penalty on the play when he checked defenseman Nick Cicek in San Jose’s net.

The Canadiens started the third period on a 5-on-3 power play due to a late delay-of-game call, but the Sharks successfully killed the penalty and countered with three goals.

Hertl redirected a Kevin Labanc pass into the back of the net at 2:29 of the third. Just over a minute later, defenseman Matt Benning located Couture with a pass and the Sharks' captain beat Allen on a breakaway to give the Canadiens a 3-0 advantage.

Hertl iced the game at 17:46 of the period by scoring into an empty net.

UP NEXT

San Jose: At Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

Montreal: At Calgary Flames on Thursday in the opener of a four-game trip.

___

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports