NEWARK, N.J. — Pride trumped desperation as the New Jersey Devils held on for a 3-2 win over the Canadiens Tuesday night at the Prudential Centre.
The Devils, who have been eliminated from playoff consideration, took a 3-0 lead early in the second period and weathered the Canadiens’ comeback attempt. It was a disappointing loss for the Canadiens, who missed opportunities to (a) reclaim first place in the Northeast Division and (b) ensure themselves of home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Where they’re at: Montreal remains tied in points with the Boston Bruins, who lost in Philadelphia. But the Bruins retain first place in the Northeast Division because they have a game in hand. The Canadiens remain four points up on Toronto in the race for fourth place. Montreal has two games to play while the Leafs have three.
Marty leads the way: Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, who says he has every intention of returning next season at the age 41, made 19 saves to boost his career record against the Canadiens to 44-18-6 with a 1.83 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.
Slow starts are painful: The Canadiens found themselves trailing 2-0 after the first period and that wasn’t good news. The Canadiens are now 0-7-1 when they trail after the first period. The Devils jumped to an early lead when Travis Zajac was given too much time on a power play and found Patrik Elias cutting to the net. Elias found the top corner on Carey Price’s blocker side. New Jersey went up 2-0 when the Canadiens failed to clear the puck and Dainius Zubrus found Jacob Josefson in front at 7:36.
Playing better: The Canadiens rallied in the second period when they got a power-play goal from Max Pacioretty — he scored on a blind pass that went off New Jersey defenceman Adam Larsson — and Lars Eller’s goal on a feed from Alex Galchenyuk. But the Canadiens didn’t put much pressure on the Devils down the stretch and managed only five shots in the third period.
What’s next: The Canadiens will finish the regular season on the road with games Thursday in Winnipeg (8 p.m., TSN-Habs, RDS, TSN-690 Radio) and Saturday in Toronto. Thursday’s game is Winnipeg’s last game of the regular season and Jets, who are in ninth place, need a win to have any chance of making the playoffs. The Jets missed a chance to move into first place in the Southeast Division when they lost in Washington.
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