The Devils roll into town to face the streaking Canadiens in a matchup of the 6th and 7th place teams in the East. This is one of three remaining games between these two clubs on the sked and it presents a golden opportunity for the Canadiens to further improve their standing in the Eastern Conference.
The first period was surprisingly exciting as the Canadiens peppered Brodeur with quality shots throughout the first 20 minutes. Richard Zednik continued to be snakebitten and Pierre Dagenais also had several quality chances. Theodore was good when he was needed as the Devils also had a few quality chances. This certainly wasn’t the snoozefest that most thought we would see tonight, at least so far.
Montreal 1-0: The Canadiens take the lead during a 4 on 4 situation and it was Richard Zednik finally getting his 20th goal of the season. Brisebois took a shot on Brodeur which was stopped by the netminder. The puck bounced to the point where Bouillon took a shot that was redirected by Zednik to the back of the net. You get the feeling that now that Zednik has gotten the first one, the goals will come a lot easier for him from here on in.
It was the Devils’ Jamie Langenbrunner who came the closest to sneaking one past Theodore as he wired a shot that rung off the post and then hit Theodore in the back and went just wide. Another good chance came from the stick of Zednik as he fired a quick shot that beat Brodeur, but not the post. It was another quality period for the Habs as they now hold a 28-20 advantage in the shot category.
Tied 1-1: The puck is punched out to the point for Colin White who rips a shot right at Theodore who makes the save. Theodore then makes a critical mistake by giving the rebound right to Friesen who gets it over to former-Hab, Turner Stevenson, who hits the open part of the net for his 10th of the season. Theodore really made a critical mistake in controlling the rebound by swiping at it with his stick because it went right to Friesen.
Montreal 2-1: The Habs are given another PP opportunity as Scott Niedermayer takes an elbowing penalty in the neutral zone. Perreault brings the puck into the Devils zone and he gives it to Dagenais who passes it to Bouillon at the point. Bouillon fires it on net and Brodeur gives up a nice rebound right to Jason Ward. Ward spins and fires it behind Brodeur as the Habs win yet another game in the last few minutes, a nice change over what occured last season. Ward is the unlikely hero here as he displays some nice hands for once.
Overall a well played game by the Habs, despite a lull after the goal by Stevenson. The Habs outshot the Devils 39 to 29 in the end and they dominated the majority of the game.
Habs Hero: I’ll give it to Jason Ward. He has been snakebitten throughout this season but on this night, he didn’t miss his chance and scored the winner in the dying minutes. Francis Bouillon contributed the point shot on each of the Habs goals and Zednik was also very effective on this night.
Habs Zero: Very tough to pick on this night, the whole team seemed to play with passion at most instances. I could single out a few small errors, but in the end i think the team deserves to not have a zero.
– The Habs 5 game game winning streak is the longest for Montreal since the fabled run to the playoffs in 2002.
– The last 4 games have been won by the Canadiens in OT or in the last minute of regulation.
– After going through a 30 game goalless streak, Ward had to go just 3 games without a goal this time.
– Bouillon now has 5 points in his last 6 games.
The Habs head out west for 4 games starting Wednesday at San Jose. The trip includes stops in LA, Anaheim and Phoenix.
Shots : MTL – 39, NJ – 29
Powerplays : MTL -1/5, NJ – 0/0