EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ The New Jersey Devils made sure Martin Brodeur didn't have to work hard for his 10th shutout of the season.
Relatively untested for the opening two periods, Brodeur made 21 saves to match his single-season career high for shutouts in a 2-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.
``I was really in the zone,'' Brodeur said after moving within five shutouts of the NHL modern-era record set by Chicago's Tony Esposito in 1969-70.
``I knew these guys were really hot and playing well defensively. I knew I wouldn't get many shots and these are the kind of games where you have to really focus.''
The shutout was the 74th of Brodeur's career and the Devils' third in seven games. Brodeur had one other and Scott Clemmensen had one.
``I think it's always been a trademark,'' Devils coach Pat Burns said of the recent shutouts. ``When you have Marty, you have half the battle done. It just depends on how the people in front of him play.''
The Devils played very well. Montreal didn't have a shot for almost the first 15 minutes and only two in the first 14 minutes of the second period.
``We were on top of things,'' Burns said.
Patrik Elias scored a short-handed goal and set up a power-play tally by Grant Marshall for the Devils.
Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore had 22 saves, including a third-period stop on a penalty shot by Marshall.
``Marty has always been ready as far as my knowledge,'' Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. ``He made the big saves when he had to. We just weren't able to complete our plays and finish them off. We put on a little spurt at the end, the last eight minutes, but it wasn't good enough.''
The loss snapped the Canadiens' five-game (4-0-1) unbeaten streak and prevented Montreal from moving ahead of New Jersey in the standings.
Brodeur, 25-10-4 with six shutouts against his hometown team, didn't face much work until the third period, when the Canadiens had 12 shots.
Yanic Perreault, former Devil Pierre Dagenais, Patrice Brisebois and Michael Ryder all had good chances but Brodeur was in the right spot in becoming the first goalie to blank the Canadiens since Oct. 28, a span of 39 games.
``We were flat for whatever reason,'' Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray said. ``Whether we felt good about the win in Philly or we felt this team would be tired after playing a lot of hockey, but for some reason we were flat.''
Elias gave the Devils the lead with a great short-handed goal exactly a minute after acting New Jersey captain Scott Niedermayer was called for tripping.
Elias made two outstanding plays in scoring his team-high 16th goal. He poked the puck around Saku Koivu at the blue line to set up the breakaway, and then showed tremendous confidence beating Theodore his a shot over his glove.
Marshall's power-play goal was more luck than skill. His shot from the right circle was deflected by Canadiens defenseman Francis Bouillon past Theodore.
(c) New Jersey Devils 2013 - All Rights Reserved
newjerseydevils.com is the official web site of the New Jersey Devils, a member team of the National Hockey League ("NHL"). NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2013 New Jersey Devils and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.