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Game 4 Recap – Breaking the Winning Hab-it: Devils 3 – Montreal 4 (OT)

New Jersey Devils vs Montreal Canadiens

The Devils suffered their first loss of the 2013 campaign as they fell to the Canadiens by a score of 4-3. The Devils were bit badly by their 4th straight sub-par 1st period as the Habs jumped out to an early 1-0 lead. Ryan White cashed in on a rebound after a strong start by Montreal for most of the first 3 minutes. The Devils were able to settle the game down, however defenseman Andy Greene made a bad turnover and star rookie Alex Galchenyuk fired a laser pass over to fellow rookie Brendan Gallagher who rifled the puck past Brodeur to give the home side a 2-0 lead. The Devils tried getting back into the game but were snake bitten by their own undisciplined play.

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Game 4: New Jersey Devils at Montreal Canadiens

New Jersey Devils vs Montreal Canadiens

Match-Up

The Devils are entering tonight’s contest 3-0-0, despite needing overtime to beat the Washington Capitals.  The Montreal Canadiens are entering this game 2-1-0 and we all know this is going to be another exciting game to watch, as most are when we head to Montreal.  Last season the Devils won the season series 3-1, and Martin Brodeur shined as always when he visits his hometown.  This season the Devils will only play the Canadiens three times, and this is the only time up in Montreal.

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Game 58 Recap: Hab you heard? Devils in fourth!

New Jersey Devils vs Montreal Canadiens

(headline by @StevePalumboNHL)

The Devils’ season has not been without adversity.  They’ve been up and down at times, and have certainly been hit hard with injuries, especially to key players, yet it’s made them a better team.  It’s made the Devils work that much harder for every goal, check and save.  Tonight was a microcosm of their season to date, and they were able to overcome the adversity once again.  The Devils went up to Montreal and beat a very desperate Montreal Canadiens team that has been playing well recently.  What does that win mean for them?  You’ll find out, statistically at least, at the end of the recap.

Unlike some recent Devils games, which had featured slow or sloppy starts, the Devils came out flying in this one.  They put on a forechecking clinic at the Bell Centre early on in this game.  Even Eric Boulton had more ice time than the Devils as a team in their own zone in the first period.  Luckily for the Canadiens, they have a goaltender, Carey Price, who is skilled enough to keep his team in the game early on.  He even lucked out, as he found himself facing the net, yet made two pad saves in a row on Patrik Elias in all alone.  But the Devils salvaged a goal in the first period.  Right off Adam Henrique’s face-off win, Ilya Kovalchuk wristed a shot on net, and Zach Parise, who was left all alone in front of Price, deflected the puck for a 1-0 lead.  The Devils outshot the Habs, 12-4 in the first period.  The period wasn’t perfect, though.  Midway through the first period, Anton Volchenkov took a puck to the face and was slow getting up.  He missed much of the second period, but returned to the game after getting stitched up.

The Devils started the second period just as they finished the first.  The Habs struggled to generate anything offensively for the first half of the second period.  It wasn’t really until a David Clarkson interference penalty that the Habs started to put together better shifts.  They failed on the power play.  In fact, the Devils’ penalty kill was dominant at that point.  However, Montreal warmed up as the second period progressed.  Martin Brodeur made all the saves, as he always does in Montreal, including one on Scott Gomez from close-range and Raphael Diaz’ point shots.  The Devils, who didn’t get the benefit of any power plays tonight, managed to stun the Habs at the end of the second period.  Patrik Elias skated around the perimeter of the offensive zone, then unleashed a hard wrister from the top of the slot.  The puck struck David Clarkson’s body and re-directed into the net for a 2-0 lead.  Montreal outshot the Devils, 9-7 in the second period, but trailed by two goals.

At some point between the second and third period, the Devils lost another defenseman.  Bryce Salvador left the game due to an apparent illness.  Luckily, Volchenkov returned, which prevented the Devils, who were already without Henrik Tallinder, Adam Larsson and Kurtis Foster tonight, from only having three defensemen.

Here are some reactions to the first two periods via Twitter:

@Tristy: Loving Marty’s strong play. Also love how Clarkson screened the defense and goalie on that last goal.

@HeadUpKid13: I like how good we are doing defensively, keeping them to bad angle shots and not many good scoring chances.

@Frederick987: Playing like they know how big a game this really is #Leapfrog baby LeapFrog!  #LETSGODEVILS

The Montreal Canadiens played a much stronger third period, though.  They also benefitted from a Dainius Zubrus high-sticking penalty just 38 seconds in.  The Habs were able to maintain control of the puck throughout the power play, and eventually, after Brodeur was trying to find the puck at the side of the net, Max Pacioretty buried it into an open net to cut their deficit to 2-1.  The Devils defensemen were chasing Habs players around and could never recover their positioning.  The Habs continued to press for the tying goal after their first goal.  Brodeur stopped 8 shots in the third period, and 21 overall.

Rather than blowing a 2-0 lead, as the Devils did against the Ducks, they were able to capitalize again.  Alexei Ponikarovsky started his shift by forcing a Habs defenseman to turn the puck over.  What followed was perhaps the team’s best shift of the night.  Steve Bernier, Dainius Zubrus and Ponikarovsky, known as the “600+ pound line” (says Ponikarovsky - all three players are 6’1″ and 210 pounds each or larger) cycled the puck relentlessly.  Finally, Zubrus got the puck back to defenseman Mark Fayne, and he found Matt Taormina, who one-timed a slapshot through Bernier’s screen in front of Price and into the net.  His shot struck and broke the camera in the back of the net.  That gave the Devils a 3-1 lead, and that score held up as a final.  Montreal made a late push in the final minutes, but the Devils, who struggled at times in their own end, held on to win.

The win gives the Devils 72 points, which is tied with the Boston Bruins for the second-highest point total in the Eastern Conference.  Due to the division leaders and standings, the Devils were able to pass Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and move into 4th place in the conference.  The Devils are one of the hottest teams in the league recently.  They’re 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, all since the All-Star break.  They’re also expecting to get healthier soon, too.  Adam Larsson, who hasn’t played since the last Devils-Canadiens game after Habs defenseman P.K. Subban hit him hard, skated before the game.  His return, plus Ryan Carter, Henrik Tallinder and Travis Zajac, could give the Devils enough to cap off what has been a great start to the second half and a 2011-esque second half run.

Game notes: The Devils won their 8th straight game at Bell Centre.  Although they were swept by the Habs in New Jersey last year and went 1-1 at home against them this season, they haven’t lost in Montreal since March 11th, 2008.  Ilya Kovalchuk, Adam Henrique and Zach Parise each recorded points on the Devils’ first goal tonight.  Kovalchuk leads the team with 58 points.  Henrique extended his lead over Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the rookie scoring lead with his 39th point.  Zach Parise and David Clarkson both scored their 22nd goals of their respective seasons, which is second on the team to Kovalchuk’s 25.  Had Patrik Elias’ shot not hit Clarkson and gone straight in, Elias would have been the fourth Devil to reach the 20-goal plateau this season.  Matt Taormina scored his first goal of the season, which is his first goal since October 30th, 2010 in Los Angeles, and fourth career goal.  Taormina missed most of last season with a broken ankle.  It was Taormina’s sixth point of the season, and 12th point for Mark Fayne, who assisted on the goal.  Parise and Taormina had a game-high five shots on goal each.  Peter Harrold was called up from AHL Albany, and replaced Kurtis Foster in the lineup.  Harrold had a pair of shots in nearly 20 minutes of ice time.

Finally, tonight’s game capped Hockey Weekend Across America.  The Devils and Canadiens each have many American players that were in tonight’s game (not including Montreal’s injured winger and ex-Devil, Brian Gionta).  The Devils’ American players are Andy Greene, Zach Parise, Nick Palmieri, Peter Harrold, Mark Fayne and Matt Taormina (plus Cam Janssen and Ryan Carter, who did not play tonight).

Game Preview – Game 58: Your New Jersey Devils vs. Montreal Canadiens

New Jersey Devils vs Montreal Canadiens

New Jersey Devils (33-20-4, 70 points) vs. Montreal Canadiens (24-25-10, 58 points)
6:00 PM EST

TV: NBCSN
Radio: WFAN 660 AM

Matchup:

Tonight will be the final match-up of the season between the Devils and Canadiens. The Devils lead the season series 2-1, getting multiple goals from Elias, Parise and Clarkson during the two wins.

Devils Winning Ways Continue:

On Friday night the Devils faced off against the Anaheim Ducks and came away with another win. Although the Ducks are a Western Conference team, it was a must win to keep up with the pace of the Eastern Conference. Adam Henrique, one of our rookie sensations, netted the first goal of the game on Friday and added to his NHL Rookie Leading Points total and is now one goal behind Philadelphia’s Matt Read for the league lead in goals. Alexei Ponikarovsky scored the Devils second goal in the middle of the 2nd period to give the Devils a 2-0 lead.  This was his third goal with the Devils since being acquired on January 20th.

The win put the Devils 5th in the East, but the Penguins beat the Flyers yesterday to drop them back into 6th. With a win today, the Devils will either be in 4th or 5th place depending on the outcome of the Penguins game.

Projected Devils Lineup:

Parise (C) – Henrique – Kovalchuk (A)
Sykora – Elias (A) – Clarkson
Ponikarovsky – Zubrus – Bernier
Boulton  – Josefson – Palmieri

Greene- Fayne
Salvador- Volchenkov
Taormina – Foster

Brodeur
Hedberg

——————–

The Latest on the Montreal Canadiens:

The Montreal Canadiens recently traded defensemen Hal Gill to the Predators for Blake Geoffrion, a minor-league player and a draft pick.  The Canadiens are sitting in 13th in the Eastern Conference right now and are coming off a shootout win against the Buffalo Sabres.

Projected Canadiens Lineup:

Cole – Desharnais – Pacioretty
Bourque – Plekanec – Darche
Palushaj – Eller – Leblanc
White – Gomez – Kostitsyn

Gorges – Subban
Kaberle – Emelin
Weber – Diaz

Price
Budaj

———-

Follow the Devils Army Generals on Facebook and on Twitter for more in-depth coverage of Jersey’s Team.

Game 50 Recap – The Game from Hell: Devils’ Domain

New Jersey Devils vs Montreal Canadiens

(headline submitted by @kmart890)

Tonight, the Devils suffered three injuries, another goal review going against them, several questionable hits from Montreal players and some unfortunate penalty calls.  It also looked as if they were headed to their fourth loss in five games for a while.  None of that prevented their second consecutive come-from-behind win out of the All-Star break.  The Devils battled hard tonight, and Martin Brodeur made a bunch of huge saves, and they knocked off the Canadiens, 5-3.

The Devils’ start in the first period probably couldn’t have gone much worse, and if it could have, I hope we never have to see it.  Just four minutes into the game, the Habs took the lead on a bizarre bounce.  David Desharnais took his own rebound from just above the goal line and sent it at the net.  It bounced off of Martin Brodeur and into the net.  Montreal kept taking it to the Devils, outshooting them and outplaying them until the Devils eventually broke down again.  All five skaters were caught “puck-watching” and they left Andrei Kostitsyn all alone in front of the net.  Kostitsyn slid the puck around Brodeur and gave Montreal a 2-0 lead.  Peter DeBoer wisely used his timeout to get his team back into the game.

Just over a minute after Kostitsyn’s goal, Zach Parise answered with a shot from the left circle off the rush.  It was one that Carey Price would certainly want back, but since he can’t have it back, Parise will have to settle for his 17th goal of the season.  That made it 2-1 Montreal, but the Devils still didn’t take command of the game.  There was no more scoring in the first period, but there was plenty of action, especially in the physical department.  Early in the game, Bryce Salvador’s shot hit Alexei Ponikarovsky in the wrist.  He remained in the game after some attention from the trainers.  Then, late in the period, Ryan Carter retaliated after a Habs player hit a Devil.  Carter got the only penalty.  Mathiea Darche then drilled Kurtis Foster, which eventually ended Foster’s night.  Still late in the period, Patrik Elias hit Montreal’s Mike Blunden from behind.  Elias may be hearing from Brendan Shanahan about possible disciplinary action for that hit.

While Elias continued to serve his penalty to start the second period, the Devils caught another tough break.  Ilya Kovalchuk skated in on a partial breakaway, and whipped a backhander on Price that fooled the Montreal goaltender.  The puck remained on the goal line behind Price, but before Ponikarovsky could bury it, Price dove on top of it and the play was blown dead.  It was reviewed, but no goal was called.  Immediately after Montreal’s power play expired, the Devils went on the power play.  However, Tomas Plekanec stole the puck from Kurtis Foster (before Foster left the game for good) and went on his own shorthanded breakaway.  Brodeur made a strong pad save on Plekanec, but Foster couldn’t clear the puck away from the crease.  Darche buried the rebound and the Habs took a 3-1 lead.

Montreal continued to take penalties throughout the second period.  The Devils were able to take advantage on one opportunity, as David Clarkson re-directed Ilya Kovalchuk’s one-timer past Price to cut the Devils’ deficit to 3-2.  Seconds after Clarkson’s career-high 18th goal of the season, they went right back on the power play, but couldn’t tie the game.  While this was going on, Brodeur was busy making huge saves, stoning seemingly every Montreal forward.  He was especially strong with his glove.  With Clarkson’s goal and Brodeur’s goaltending, the Devils remained down one goal heading into the third period.

The thrid period hasn’t been the Devils’ specialty this season, but that didn’t matter last night.  As they did Tuesday night against the Rangers, the Devils found a way to rally in the third period.  6:11 into the third period, Alexei Ponikarovsky spun around and fired a shot from the right circle that Dainius Zubrus tipped in, which tied the game at three.  Montreal continued to take their shots, some of them high-quality chances, but Brodeur, as he did all night, kept the Devils in the game.  Mid-way through the period, Adam Larsson, for the second time in the game, got hit hard.  P.K. Subban caught the Devils rookie with his head down, and dropped him.  Larsson needed to be helped off the ice.  Subban’s hit was a clean hit, however Larsson is suffering from what has been called a bruised lower back.

With under three minutes to play in the third period, Andy Greene made a crucial play to keep the puck in the offensive zone.  Patrik Elias then fed Ilya Kovalchuk in the slot.  Kovy’s slapshot was deflected right to Zach Parise, who buried his second into the net.  Parise nearly had his hat trick goal on an empty netter, but David Clarkson scored his second of the night to seal it for the Devils.

As big of a win as Tuesday’s victory over the Rangers was, the comeback tonight was just as important in the standings.  The Devils’ margin for error in this second half is slim, and being able to win a game after how poorly they played in the first period is a very strong statement by the Devils.  Brodeur has also been strong for the most part, despite allowing six goals in two games since the break.  He does have his coach’s support, though, and he’ll keep playing most of the games.  Obviously, they’ll need Larsson to be healthy.  DeBoer was unsure of the severity of both Foster and Larsson’s injuries, but if either are out for an extended period of time, general manager Lou Lamoriello may go out and get a defenseman.  Last week, he was quoted as saying if the Devils can “improve [on defense,] we will.”  Considering they’re already without Henrik Tallinder on the blue line and still missing centers Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac, they might be forced to make a trade to stay in the playoff picture.

The Devils will travel down to Philadelphia for an afternoon game against the Flyers on Saturday.

Player Profile: Dainius Zubrus

Dainius ZubrusNUMBER: 8
HEIGHT: 6′ 5″
POSITION: Center
SHOOTS: Left
BORN: June 16, 1978
BIRTHPLACE: Elektrenai, Lithuania

Dainius Zubrus was drafted 15th overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. His rookie season, he helped the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup Final. In 1999, he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens, and in 2001 he would play for the Washington Capitals. In February of 2007, he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres, and in July of that year he would become a free agent! Lucky for us Devils fans, he signed a 6 year contract worth $20.4 million to play for us!

The “Lithuanian Locomotive” (as Chico would call him) had one of the best offensive games in Devils history on November 23, 2008 when he tied a team record by scoring 4 goals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, leading the team to a 7-3 victory.

Zubrus is one of my absolute favorite players on our team. He’s a total package. He can pass, he can shoot, he can score, and he’s not afraid to throw his weight around when he needs to!

In addition to his presence on the ice, Zubie has a wonderful personality off the ice. He has made many public appearances and I’ve had the privilege of getting multiple chances to talk to him. He’s quick to smile, has a great sense of humor, and takes the time to answer any question (no matter how silly sounding) his fans have.

So, here’s to you, Dainius Zubrus!

Dainius Zubrus & Kim

Dainius Zubrus & Kim

2010-2011 Season Stats
GP G A P +/- PIM PP SH GW S S%
79 13 17 30 -11 53 1 0 2 115 11.3
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