Canadiens 4, Devils 3 (F)
David Clarkson, who was named to this weekend's YoungStars Game, puts a hit on Alexei Kovalev.
newjerseydevils.com (Jan. 24) –
The Devils no doubt hoped for a better result in their final game before this weekend's All-Star Break.
Head coach Brent Sutter certainly did.
Following his club's 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, Sutter said his group didn't have what was necessary to nail down the win Thursday night at Prudential Center.
The Devils took a 3-1 lead into the third period only to watch it slip away on three unanswered goals by the Canadiens. Montreal had entered Thursday's game winless in its last 10 visits to the Garden State (0-8-2).
Bryan Smolinski scored twice and Saku Koivu ended a six-game goal drought for the Canadiens, who rebounded from two two-goal deficits to tie the game at 3 with 8:06 left in regulation.
Chris Higgins potted the go-ahead marker at 14:31 of the third, as the Canadiens outshot the Devils 20-3 in the period, and 29-7 over the game's final 40 minutes.
made 17 of his 28 saves in the third period, while the Devils mustered a season-low 13 shots overall.
"The third period was a total lack of effort, total lack of commitment, total lack of everything it takes to win a hockey game," Sutter said. "To be quite honest, I was disappointed in the whole team tonight. We lacked a lot of stuff, especially in the last half of the game."
New Jersey, which had its winning streak against the Habs halted at nine games, is 11-4 in its last 15 games in Newark, but has dropped three of its last four contests there.
netted the first two goals of the game for the Devils (28-18-3), who find themselves in a first-place tie with Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division at the break.
Elias opened the scoring on the power play with his 13th of the season at 12:18 of the first period. Mike Mottau created the man advantage by drawing a tripping minor on Sergei Kostitsyn, then assisted on the goal.
Mottau gloved down a Steve Begin clearing attempt at the left point, and passed to Elias along the left side. Elias stepped into a wrist shot from the left dot, beating Cristobal Huet for his fifth of the season on the power play.
Elias and Mottau combined again to make it 2-0 at 3:24 of the second, when Mottau found a streaking Elias for a tap-in score and his fourth goal in two games.
Andrei Kostitsyn set up Smolinski in the slot to get Montreal on the scoresheet at 14:12 of the second, but the Devils soon regained the two-goal cushion.
Tomas Plekanec was serving two minutes for slashing when Begin was called for a cross-check at 16:55 to create a 5-on-3 for 1:31.
The Devils cashed in, with Langenbrunner blasting home his eighth of the year for a 3-1 lead.
Brian Gionta controlled an offensive zone faceoff for Paul Martin, who worked the puck to Langenbrunner. The Devils captain walked in to the top of the slot and wired a slapshot that beat Huet along the ice at 17:02.
Langenbrunner's goal gave New Jersey its seventh power-play goal in two games (7-for-12), following a team-record five-goal output with the man advantage on Tuesday.
Eleven seconds later, a Canadiens' bench minor for abusing the officials produced a 1:42 two-man advantage for the Devils, only this time the opportunity got away.
"We got a break," Sutter said of the first 5-on-3, "and we capitalized on it. Then we had the second one where a lot of guys decided to do their own thing and everyone was on their program from that point on."
Smolinski scored 29 seconds into the third period on an Andrei Markov rebound, and the comeback was on.
Koivu notched his ninth with a redirection of Mike Komisarek's wrist shot from the point to even the score, and Higgins' 16th sent the Devils to just their second loss this season when leading after two periods (19-2).
New Jersey plays eight of its next nine at Prudential Center, beginning Tuesday against Pittsburgh.
Montreal's last win in New Jersey came on Feb. 5, 2002... Sheldon Brookbank
and Andy Greene
were Thursday's scratches... Cam Janssen
(shoulder) and Jay Pandolfo
(groin) remain sidelined.
|Three star selections