Devils' Stephen Gionta, left, and Canadiens' Brian Gionta play against each other for the first time since 2010 on Sunday.
MONTREAL — When the Canadiens take on the New Jersey Devils on Sunday at the Bell Centre it will be a family affair for the Giontas.
Canadiens captain Brian Gionta’s younger brother Stephen plays for the Devils.
“Tomorrow night will be his first game here so I’m sure he’ll have quite the experience,” Gionta told reporters after practice on Saturday.
Their parents are visiting Montreal as well.
“They don’t care what happens tomorrow night, I guess,” Gionta said with a laugh.
The two brothers played against each other for the first time in New Jersey in 2010 — an experience Gionta described as loads of fun.
His brother scored on Friday during the Devils’ 3-2 overtime victory over the Capitals.
“It was nice to see. I was watching the game,” Gionta said.
“As long as he doesn’t score tomorrow night we’re all right.”
Forward Lars Eller will be back in the Canadiens’ lineup on Sunday after being a healthy scratch for the past two games.
Coach Michel Therrien said he made the decision on Friday before he found out that Max Pacioretty has flu-like symptoms.
While they want internal competition on the team, Therrien said he doesn’t want it to become unhealthy.
“I believe in the team spirit. (Eller’s) part of the team. He’s a young man that we care (about) and we want him to be better … It’s our job to make sure that he’s going to get better,” Therrien said.
Pacioretty missed Saturday’s practice and Eller practised in his place on the line with Erik Cole and David Desharnais.
Pacioretty has a slight fever and will be re-evaluated on Sunday. Therrien declined to talk about who might be out of the lineup.
Defenceman Tomas Kaberle left practice early after being hit in the face with a puck. “We’ll see tomorrow,” was all Therrien said when asked about him by one reporter.
The Devils are unbeaten in three games this season and their goaltender, Montreal native Martin Brodeur, has a formidable 43-18-5 record against the Canadiens.
“He loves playing in Montreal and he always plays well here,” Gionta said of his former teammate when he played for the Devils.
“We have to be ready to get some pucks at him and get some bodies in front of him and try to challenge him,” Gionta said.
Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges doesn’t believe there’s any real secret to beating Brodeur, who he said “has to be arguably the best all-time” goalie.
“You’ve got to be in his face. You’ve got to be in the crease. You’ve got to create those second and third opportunities,” said Gorges, adding that if Brodeur sees the puck he’s going to save it.”
The Devils play a tight-checking team system, Gorges noted. “And I think as evidenced in the last few years, teams that play that way and are disciplined in their system are successful,” he said.
The Canadiens can’t focus too much on what the Devils are going to do, he added.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game. We know it’s going to be one of those games that’s a war along the boards, a war in front of the net — all those battles that need to be won,” Gorges said.
“So we need to be sharper than they are tomorrow night.”
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