Madden celebrates at the Devils' bench after snapping his 24-game dry spell.
newjerseydevils.com – After a disappointing end to 2008, the Devils started off 2009 with a bang.
Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner each had a goal and an assist, and Scott Clemmensen made 33 saves as the Devils toppled the Montreal Canadiens, 4-1, Friday at Prudential Center.
New Jersey rebounded from a 4-2 loss at Dallas on New Year's Eve with a win in their first contest of the new year. Since suffering back-to-back shutouts on home ice, the Devils have taken three of four, scoring four times in each victory.
Brian Gionta tallied for the Devils, as did John Madden, who snapped a 24-game goal drought.
New Jersey scored three times on 22 shots to chase Montreal starter Jaroslav Halak after two periods in favor of backup Marc Denis.
Clemmensen (14-6-1) made his 10th straight start and was named the game's First Star. The Devils' goaltender has limited opponents to one goal in six of his last 13 appearances.
Without Martin Brodeur in net for either of their meetings with the Canadiens this season, the Devils and Clemmensen improved to 2-0-0 against the Habs. Entering this season, Brodeur had started every game for New Jersey versus Montreal since Feb 1, 1997.
The win moved New Jersey (22-12-3) into a temporary tie with Philadelphia for second place in the Atlantic Division, two points behind the division-leading New York Rangers. The Flyers were set to face Anaheim Friday night.
After halting Montreal's winning streak at three games, the Devils host Ottawa for a 5 p.m. start on Sunday. New Jersey then plays nine of its next 12 on the road.
"I had tremendous confidence in the guys and how they responded," head coach Brent Sutter said. "I trust the group. I had good vibes coming to the rink today that we were going to play a really good game and we had a tremendous effort from our goaltender right on out. You can go right through the lineup, everyone played really well."
The Devils took the lead, lost it, then regained it, all in a 4:04 span of the first period. They finished with three unanswered goals against a Montreal club that entered the evening having allowed 2.42 goals per game, fourth-best in the NHL.
New Jersey killed off two early power plays thanks to a pair of Clemmensen saves on Robert Lang at 10:45. They went ahead 1-0 on Gionta's slapper through Halak's pads at 14:21.
Gionta led a 4-on-2 rush up ice before winding up and blasting one from the right circle for his 10th of the season. Elias collected his 24th assist and his 669th career point to move within 32 of John MacLean's franchise record.
Montreal's Max Pacioretty tied it at 1 with his first NHL goal.
Pacioretty stepped around Andy Greene at the Montreal blue line and skated to the right dot for a snap shot over Clemmensen's left shoulder at 16:30.
Parise's team-leading 22nd of the season put the Devils back on top with 1:35 left in the first. Andrei Markov whiffed on a clearing attempt just inside his own blue line, and Parise stepped in for a shot through Halak from the bottom of the right circle at 18:25.
With 99 goals in 281 games, Parise needs one goal in his next two games to become the fastest Devil to 100 goals from the start of his career. Gionta set the current franchise record when he reached the century mark in 284 games back on Dec. 26, 2006.
Madden notched his fourth after taking a pass out of the defensive zone by Jay Pandolfo. Madden raced up the middle with Mike Rupp on 2-on-1 against Francis Bouillon, then fired a wrist shot over Halak's glove from the right dot at 11:11.
Madden last connected for two goals on Oct. 22 against Dallas.
"You don't look at John Madden as a goal scorer, you look at him as someone who plays responsibly on three ends of the ice," Sutter said. "Tonight, he was rewarded by scoring a goal. I'm happy for him. Hopefully, it's a weight off his shoulders a little bit."
Langenbrunner's sixth goal of the season was his first in 11 games and put the game out of reach with 6:49 remaining. Parise put a backhand pass from behind the net to the Devils' captain in front, and Langenbrunner beat Denis' glove side from the slot at 13:11.
The Devils are undefeated in regulation when leading after two periods (16-0-1) and 12-0-1 when scoring four or more goals... New Jersey improved to 5-1-1 in first home games after a road trip... Greene's assist on Madden's goal was his first point in eight games since returning from a broken hand on Dec. 19... Colin White (upper body) missed his third game... Sheldon Brookbank was a healthy scratch.