MONTREAL -- The question has come up at every stop on the Sharks' extended trip: How is this year's hot start different from last year's?
Well, here's one way: Saturday night at the Bell Center, San Jose bounced back from its first regulation loss of the season with a 2-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. A year ago, the Sharks needed seven games to pick up two points in one night.
"I don't know if it's more important in this league to win multiple games or to stop the losses," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "This is the first time we've had to put the brakes on a loss. The response from our group was excellent."
Logan Couture accounted for both goals -- one on a power play, the other after a strange bounce that might have involved more than luck. Goalie Antti Niemi made 22 saves in picking up his second shutout of the week as the Sharks' boosted their record to 9-1-1.
"Yeah, I felt good and the team played well again," said Niemi, who has given up two goals over the past three games. "Not too many shots, and this time we were able to score two."
The Sharks were coming off a brutal 2-1 loss Thursday in Boston with the winning goal coming with 0.8 seconds left in the game with a breakdown in coverage to blame. Couture also liked the way the Sharks responded.
"That was a tough loss, but we didn't let it get to us," Couture said. "We got over it quickly, moved on and got ready for tonight. That was really important and big for us."
This was San Jose's fourth game without injured defenseman Dan Boyle and third without Brent Burns. While the offense did pound Montreal netminder Carey Price with 35 shots, the Sharks again had trouble finishing plays, and that had McLellan tinkering with his lines at times.
The first period was scoreless, and although the Sharks outshot Montreal, it was Niemi who had to make the tougher saves, the biggest being on Tomas Plekanec to thwart an odd-man rush.
The first four penalties all went San Jose's way, but it wasn't until that fourth one that the Sharks could take advantage.
"Our first three power plays, we were sloppy. We weren't sharp," Couture said. "The puck was bouncing on, us and we weren't ourselves. Even the fourth one was a little sloppy, but people were able to find a way."
The goal came as Couture sliced toward the net, then deflected a hard pass from Joe Thornton past Price at 6:20 of the second period.
The closest the Canadiens came to scoring required a quick save, and it wasn't by Niemi. Montreal forward David Desharnais' shot late in the second period was behind Niemi and about to cross the line when defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic swept it away with his stick.
"I knew what he was trying to do," Vlasic said of Desharnais. "I just knocked it away before he could do it."
San Jose got its second goal at 4:09 of the third period when Price went behind his net to field a puck rimmed around the back boards by Patrick Marleau. But the puck took a weird bounce to Couture in front of an open net, and he backhanded it in.
But McLellan indicated a little more than luck was involved.
"That's where we needed to put it," he said of the puck flying along the glass. "We talked about that before the game. You could see even in the third, he likes to come out and play the puck. When it's up on the glass, it doesn't matter what rink you're in, you can't trust it."
While the hit looked questionable and Wingels was visibly upset at the time, he was trying to look forward Saturday.
"I didn't like the hit, but it's over with, and I've moved on," he said.
Sharks (9-1-1) at Ottawa (4-4-2),
2 p.m. CSNCA