The Montreal Canadiens are running into hot goaltenders at the wrong time of the season.
The Canadiens outshot San Jose 44-17 Monday night, but the Sharks managed to skate away with a 1-1 tie.
Montreal, struggling to get back in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, has scored just 12 goals in its last seven games.
"It's been the story of our season," said Canadiens coach Alain Vigneault. "Its like a football team that drives into the red zone but can't score, or a baseball team that has the bases loaded but can't get a key hit. "
"The guys who should score have had the chances, but for some reason or another they can't put the puck in."
And one of the guys who should be scoring, Saku Koivu, recognized that.
"In this league, taking the next step means when you get a chance to score, you have to take it," said Koivu. "I had three or four chances myself and I wasn't able to put it in."
"In the situation that we're in, we needed two points."
Instead, it was just one point and the Canadiens remained seven points behind eight-placed Boston in the Eastern Conference. Montreal has 12 games left, Boston 13.
Steve Shields sparkled in goal for the Sharks, who extended their unbeaten streak to six games (4-0-2) and solidified their hold on seventh place in the Western Conference with 12 games remaining.
"I was following the puck really well," said Shields, who was making his eighth consecutive start. "I was in position well and didn't have to scramble a lot. I made a lot of easy saves because I was in the right place."
The only time he wasn't was on a power-play goal by Eric Weinrich with 45 seconds left in the second period that tied the game.
Owen Nolan gave San Jose the initial lead 53 seconds into the second.
Jeff Hackett made 16 saves for Montreal, including an outstanding glove save t deny Bob Rouse early in overtime.
Shields has allowed two or fewer goals in 19 of his 26 starts.
He came up with several big stops in the third period, making a pad save on a low shot by Koivu during a 2-on-1, stopping Vincent Damphousse from the side of the net with just over three minutes left and then snaring a tip by Brian Savage as the puck trickled towards the goal-line.
"We played awful," said Nolan. "If it wasn't for Shields, who knows what the score is gonna be."
"He doesn't even face that number of shots in practice. No question that he earned us the tie."
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