newjerseydevils.com – The Devils protected their lead in the Eastern Conference over the weekend and now have a chance to extend it.
New Jersey (40-23-6) looks to strengthen its one-point edge over the Montreal Canadiens when the teams meet tonight at the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m., VERSUS, WFAN 660 AM).
The Devils are looking to avoid dropping a season series to the Habs for the first time since taking two of three contests in 1992-93 en route to their last Stanley Cup title.
Montreal posted a 2-1 home victory on March 1 in the teams' most recent meeting, giving it back-to-back wins against the Devils for the first time since Nov. 11, 1992-Jan. 20, 1993. The Canadiens haven't won more than two straight in the all-time series since a four-game run, spanning two seasons from Oct. 10, 1988-Oct. 13, 1989.
Goaltender Martin Brodeur is expected to try for his second win of the season against the Habs. Brodeur made 42 saves in his 27th straight start Saturday, leading the Devils to a 2-1 victory at Toronto.
Zach Parise scored his second goal of the game with 48.3 seconds left in regulation for the Devils, who have won three in a row.
New Jersey, one point in front of Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division, is heading toward its 11th consecutive playoff appearance.
Brodeur, who has stopped 104 of 107 shots during the Devils' win streak, is 12-3-3 with a 1.91 GAA in 18 starts since Feb. 2.
The three-time Vezina Trophy winner is 1-2-0 with a 2.02 GAA and a shutout in three games versus Montreal this season. He is 34-14-0 with five ties, eight shutouts and a 1.76 GAA in 53 all-time meetings.
The Montreal native, who had won four straight games at Bell Centre prior to that March 1 loss, is 14-11-0 with a tie, four shutouts and a 1.77 GAA in 26 starts in his hometown.
Parise - the team leader with 30 goals - has collected five during his three-game goal-scoring streak. However, he has been kept off the scoresheet in the last two games against the Canadiens since he had a hat trick in the Devils' November win.
Montreal (38-23-9) opens a four-game homestand after going 2-2-0 on a road trip that concluded Sunday with a 3-1 loss to Anaheim. Alex Kovalev scored his team-leading 30th goal and rookie Carey Price made 34 saves for the Canadiens, who gave up two third-period goals, including one short-handed.
Price, who assumed the No. 1 role after Cristobal Huet was traded to Washington late last month, is 4-2-0 with a 2.51 goals-against average in his last six starts.
The Canadiens, two points ahead of Ottawa in the Northeast Division, are 9-4-0 since a three-game skid from Feb. 7-12. Montreal is trying to return to the playoffs for the third time in four seasons after missing out in 2006-07.
Devils defenseman Paul Martin has missed four games with general soreness, but traveled with the team to Montreal... Colin White did not make the trip on Monday, though he could rejoin the team during the road trip which continues in Minnesota Thursday and Colorado Saturday. He was not expected to see action against the Canadiens.
with wire services
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