SAN JOSE (AP) — Ben Smith’s day started with a morning skate in Chicago and ended with a goal in San Jose.
In between was a trade, a flight halfway across the country and a police escort that got him to the rink less than an hour before his first game with the Sharks.
Smith had a goal and an assist on his whirlwind day to give the struggling Sharks a needed spark as San Jose shut out Montreal for the third straight meeting in a 4-0 win over the Canadiens on Monday night.
“Any time you get traded to a team you want to bring a boost whether they’re in first place in the league or last place,” Smith said. “It starts shift by shift trying to do the small things that can uplift a team.”
Joe Pavelski, Matt Irwin and Patrick Marleau also scored for the Sharks, who snapped an eight-game home losing streak by beating the top team in the Eastern Conference.
Alex Stalock made 20 saves for his fourth career shutout and first win of any kind since Jan. 6 at Minnesota. That performance followed Antti Niemi’s two shutouts against the Canadiens last year, giving San Jose three straight shutouts against a single opponent for the second time in team history. They also did it against Phoenix in the 2007-08 season.
“We knew it was desperation time,” Stalock said. “I think you saw the guys in this room and how they responded.”
The Canadiens got off to a bad start on their four-game West Coast trip as they were outplayed from the start against San Jose. Carey Price made 33 saves and had his franchise record 10-game road winning streak snapped.
“We just weren’t sharp today,” defenseman P.K. Subban said. “We weren’t and they were. They seemed like they had more juice. They were just going, going, going. ... This wasn’t our team today.”
It was a busy trade deadline day for both teams. Montreal plugged several needs by acquiring defenseman Jeff Petry from Edmonton, and making two separate deals with Buffalo to land forwards Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn. Petry arrived in time to play against the Sharks.
San Jose dealt away three forwards in the 24 hours leading up to the trade deadline, sending James Sheppard to the New York Rangers and Tyler Kennedy to the Islanders for draft picks and sending Andrew Desjardins to Chicago for Smith.
Despite the flurry of trades and recent slump, the Sharks still believed they had a shot at an 11th straight playoff berth. The win moved them into a three-way tie for third in the Pacific Division, although Calgary and Los Angeles each have two games in hand.
Smith arrived just before game time and didn’t even take part in the pregame skate. But he made an immediate impact, deflecting a shot from Marc-Edouard Vlasic past Price less than 7 minutes into the game to give San Jose the lead. It was Smith’s first point in 26 games.
“I don’t think too many guys take their pregame skates and half a country away and land and throw your gear on and have that type of game,” coach Todd McLellan said. “I think that speaks volumes about Ben’s character, first of all. It would be easy to have a built-in excuse about fatigue and what-not. I think he was really excited about being here. It energized the group.”
San Jose added to the lead in the final minute of the period when Pavelski deflected a point shot from Brent Burns past Price.
Irwin’s point shot through a screen by Smith made it 3-0 early in the second and the Sharks went on to their eighth straight home win against Montreal.
The only drama was whether the Sharks would get the shutout and Burns helped preserve it when he batted a shot out by David Desharnais just before it crossed the goal line after his own turnover set up the scoring chance.
“For us, it seemed like we had no energy, tonight,” coach Michel Therrien said. “I thought our team was drained.”
NOTES: Smith assisted on Irwin’s goal for the fourth two-point game of his career. ... Montreal was last shut out by one team in three straight games against Washington in 2011-12. ... Marleau scored a power-play goal late in the third to give him goals on the man advantage in three straight games for the first time since March 2011.