Montreal Canadiens goaltender Mathieu Garon denied Niedermayer's first opportunity and a goal post took away the second on Friday night as the Devils and Canadiens skated to a 1-1 tie.
``It would have been nice to score there,'' Niedermayer said after the Devils moved within a point of clinching a playoff berth. ``The second one hit the post. The first one I kind of shot back into him.''
Garon was prone when he stopped Niedermayer on the first attempt. He said the second shot was close to going in.
``It was a tough battle,'' Garon said of the opener of the home-and-home series that concludes in Montreal on Saturday night.
``Playing against Marty Brodeur, you're not allowed to make any mistakes because he's not going to give up many goals,'' Garon said.
Brodeur finished with 30 saves and gave credit to his rival, who had 29.
``He played well the whole game and made some incredible saves,'' Brodeur said. ``He got a little lucky at the end with a post. That's the way it goes. You don't expect to clinch every time on the first try.''
Brodeur is on the verge of a historic milestone. He would be the eighth goaltender to win 400 games, and the youngest at 31.
Jay Pandolfo scored for the Devils, who can advance to the postseason with either a win or tie, or a tie or loss by Buffalo.
Yanic Perreault scored for the Canadiens, whose 88 points put them within three of clinching a postseason berth. Montreal is 10-1-1-1 in its last 13 games.
New Jersey maintained its two-point lead over Montreal in the race for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The Devils are four points behind the Philadelphia Flyers in the chase for first in the Atlantic Division.
New Jersey has played two fewer games than the Flyers.
Saku Koivu was stopped by Brodeur on a wraparound in the opening seconds of overtime and Alex Kovalev was stopped on a 30-footer.
The Canadiens were a step faster than the Devils in the first period, and they left the ice with a 1-0 lead after outshooting New Jersey 15-8.
Perreault got his fourth goal in four games, stuffing a rebound past Brodeur at 4:35.
Richard Zednik made the play, collecting a loose puck in center ice and skating around defenseman Colin White to set up a quick shot from above the right circle that Brodeur could only block.
New Jersey thought it tied the game with 8:23 left in the period, but the goal was nullified after a videotape review showed that Elias had his stick too high when he deflected Ray Giroux's shot.
Pandolfo tied the game 1:19 into the second period, chipping a centering pass by John Madden over Garon for his 13th goal, tying his career high.
The goal culminated a great shift during which Paul Martin and Pandolfo also had good scoring chances.
|Yanic Perreault (16) ASST: Richard Zednik (24), Francis Bouillon (15)|
1 - 0 MTL
|Jay Pandolfo (13) ASST: John Madden (22), Jamie Langenbrunner (12)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Power Play %||23.9%||20.7%|
|% on Road||20.5%||25.6%|
|% at Home||26.5%||16.3%|
|Colin White Hi-sticking against Alex Kovalev|
|Mike Ribeiro Slashing|
|David Hale Slashing against Jason Ward|
|Craig Rivet Interference against Jay Pandolfo|