The New Jersey Devils scored two early power play goals en route to a 3-0 lead on the Canadiens and then withstood a strong comeback attempt to record a 3-2 win in Newark Tuesday night. It was the Canadiens 5th loss in the six games since they clinched a playoff berth thirteen days ago. Patrick Elias, Jacob Josefson and Steve Sullivan gave the Devils their lead. Max Pacioretty and Lars Eller scored for the Canadiens. With the Bruins losing in Philadelphia, the Canadiens remain tied with Boston for the Northeast Division lead at 59 points. With three games remaining, the Bruins hold a game in hand over the Canadiens who will conclude their season in Winnipeg Thursday and Toronto Saturday.
Adding It Up –
Uninvolved – For the 5th time in the last six games the Canadiens came out unprepared to compete and found themselves back on their heels and down 2-0. The Canadiens have been outscored 13-2 in the first period over the stretch and at no time over the stretch did they hold so much as a 1-0 lead in the opening period.
Slippery Slope – Canadiens penalty killers gave up goals the first two times they went to work. That’s ten scored on them over the last 30 times shorthanded. The Devils wound up 2 for 4 and Canadiens penalty killing, which had climbed up to 13th in the league two weeks ago, has in six games, slipped to 25th overall.
No Chance – Even at the age of 40, you do not present Martin Brodeur with a 3-0 lead and expect to come back. The Canadiens started to finally show some enthusiasm midway through the second period, but by then the Devils were in full Jacques Lemaire mode. With the usual Devils centre ice traffic jam, the best the Canadiens could do through the final 30 minutes was ten shots on Brodeur and the two goals, one of them a fluke.
Eller-Galchenyuk – It is understood that Michel Therrien is very careful against whom who he sends the Eller line out, but once again they were the Canadiens best. Their hard forechecking work produced the Canadiens second goal with Galchenyuk forcing the puck in front for Eller for the Canadiens second goal. Over the last ten games, playing with a variety of right wingers Galchenyuk has 6 goals and Eller 3 and they have 18 points.
The Rest – Max Pacioretty had his usual raft of shots (5), and actually is showing signs of getting his game back together after a horrible slump. He now has 3 goals and 3 assists during a five game point streak. Desharnais looks tired. So did Plekanec in this game. Prust and Gallagher were enthusiastic but produced little. I saw little improvement from the defence.
The Goaltender – Carey Price couldn’t be faulted on much. The Elias power play goal was off a break and top shelf. Diaz failed to pick up his man in front on the Josefson goal and the other power play goal was a quick pass across Zidlicky to Sullivan.
Small Mercies – The Canadiens are, unbelievably, still in the race for first place in the Northeast division with the Bruins. While the Canadiens have been stumbling along at 1-5-0 their last six games, Boston is only one point better at 1-4-1.
Down To The Wire – The Canadiens finish off with games in Winnipeg and Toronto. The Bruins hosts TampaBay, plays in Washington and finishes up at home against Ottawa.