Devils take on Habs in Jersey
The Devils opened up their second half by picking up a big Star break.
New Jersey looks to wrap a lengthy homestand this evening and deny Montreal a fifth straight victory in the Garden State.
The Devils began a six-game residency with a win over Winnipeg back on Jan. 17, but dropped the next tests of the stay, including a shootout loss to Buffalo on Jan. 24. After the extended break, New Jersey hosted the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers on Tuesday and battled back all night for a 4-3 shootout win.
The Devils erased three one-goal deficits in the game and then picked up the extra point when Ilya Kovalchuk scored the lone goal of the shootout in the first round. Martin Brodeur, who made 23 saves through overtime, came up with stops on Derek Stepan, Brad Richards and All-Star Game MVP Marian Gaborik.
"It was an emotional win. We've had our share of issues against the Rangers so to come back the way we (did was great)," said Brodeur after New Jersey moved to 9-2 in shootouts this year.
David Clarkson tied the game on a goal with 48 ticks left in regulation, while Kovalchuk and Zach Parise also scored in the game.
New Jersey sits eighth overall in the Eastern Conference, 12 points behind the Rangers.
"It's a big one for sure," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said of the win over New York. "We're at a time when obviously they're all big, but we really needed a win against obviously a really good team, the best in our conference right now. During a critical homestand here, it's a big two points."
DeBoer would love to see his team end the homestand with two straight wins, but he must find a way to solve the Canadiens. Though the Devils have won 10 of the past 14 encounters overall, the Habs have come out on top in each of their last four visits to New Jersey by a 13-4 margin. That includes a 2-1 win on Dec. 10 in which Montreal netminder Carey Price denied Parise on a penalty shot in the game's final minute.
Price was in solid form again on Tuesday, but didn't get enough offensive support in a 3-1 loss against the visiting Sabres. Price ended with 37 saves on 39 shots faced as Montreal failed to secure a third straight win and instead lost for the 13th time in 19 contests.
"That's a shame because he played great," said defenseman Hal Gill of Price. "He tried to steal one for us and we didn't let it happen."
Max Pacioretty scored at the 4:09 mark of the first period, but the next three goals came off the sticks of Buffalo players.
"I think at the end of the first, we lost a little momentum. They came hard and we didn't do the things that we need to do," said Gill. "We turned it over in the neutral zone, we gave them too many chances outside, we didn't attack them enough."
Montreal had knocked off NHL-leading Detroit by a 7-2 margin in its last game before the break and will seek to avoid its eight loss in its last 10 road games.