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Slow starts continue to be the downfall for the Canadiens.  On Tuesday
night in New Jersey, a pair of first period tallies set the team back on their
heels and once again they were unable to muster up enough offence to overcome
the early deficit.  Although they played better at times than they had in
the past several games, they fell 3-2 to the Devils.

The first period featured a lot of what we have seen in recent games. 
The Habs were terrible in their defensive zone coverage, Carey Price didn’t look
his best, and they allowed the first two goals of a game yet again.  Patrik
Elias opened the scoring with a powerplay goal after Travis Zajac sprung him on
a breakaway.  Less than four minutes later, Jacob Josefson, who had been a
healthy scratch for the Devils’ last game, scored his first of the season,
banking one off of Price’s mask and in. 

Unfortunately for Montreal, the second period didn’t get off to any better of
a start.  Brandon Prust was called for goaltender interference early (he
had an awful lot of help from the New Jersey d-man in the process but I digress)
giving the Devils their second man advantage.  They took advantage once
again as Steve Sullivan, who also was a healthy scratch in New Jersey’s previous
contest, re-directed a Marek Zidlicky pass from the point past Price who had no
chance on that one. 

That tally seemed to wake up the Canadiens, who capitalized on a powerplay of
their own as Max Pacioretty banked one in off of a Devils’ defender (finally,
some good luck) to end any thoughts of a Martin Brodeur shutout.  With less
than two minutes left in the frame, Montreal had two strong forechecking shifts
which directly attributed to a late goal.  Lars Eller took a pass from Alex
Galchenyuk behind the net and fired it home with twenty seconds left in the
period, getting the Canadiens back into it and giving them some momentum for the
third…or so we thought.

The third period resembled most games in New Jersey over the years, lots of
skating with very little action and even fewer chances.  The Habs were held
to just five shots in the final period and were unable to beat Brodeur to tie
the game.  He made 19 saves for the win while Price, who looked more
comfortable as the game went on, turned aside 21 shots in a losing effort. 
The Devils were 2/4 with the man advantage while Montreal had one goal in four

HW 3 Stars of the Night

1st Star: Max Pacioretty: There weren’t a whole lot of
offensive threats on this night but he was Montreal’s most dangerous.  He
led both teams in shots on goal, caused a couple of turnovers, and recovered
nicely from a knee-on-knee collision in the first period.  His goal gives
him six points in his last five games.

Stats: 1 goal, -1 rating, 5 shots, 2 hits, 14:13 TOI

2nd Star: Raphael Diaz: As much as the Habs’ defence corps
looks awfully small right now, it’s nice to see him back in the lineup. 
His poise with the puck and skating abilities are something that this team has
been sorely lacking from its lower defence pairings.  He looked notably
more comfortable than he did on Saturday night, his first game back from his

Stats: 1 assist, -1 rating, 2 shots, 4 blocks (game high), 20:42 TOI

3rd Star: Tomas Plekanec: He’s in a bit of a funk at the moment
in terms of production but he is still the best centre the Habs have most nights
and this one was no exception.  He created several quality chances
(including one shorthanded where the team nearly picked up their first 4-on-5
tally of the year) and played a sound two-way game.

Stats: 0 points, even rating, 2 shots, 8/18 faceoffs, 19:24 TOI

Honourable Mention: Lars Eller: I would have put him higher (he
did score an important goal) but his lack of attention to detail in the
defensive zone was concerning so I’ve bumped him to here.  He continually
was looking to get out of the zone early to get something going the other way. 
When things are going well that’s okay but when the team in struggling in its
own end, he should take the extra time to help out there.  Beyond that
though, he had a solid game.

Stats: 1 goal, +1 rating, 2 shots, 2 hits, 7/13 faceoffs, 16:10 TOI

Stats of the Night: The Habs have now allowed 13 first period
goals in their past six games (2.17 per game).  There are three teams this
season who don’t allow that many goals per game.  The team that has scored
first in each of the last seven games has gone on to win.  Raphael Diaz had
as many blocked shots (4) as the entire New Jersey team.  Alex Galchenyuk
played 15:28 in this game, that’s the highest TOI he had since February 25th.