Al Montoya stopped 24 shots for his fourth NHL shutout as the Jets kept the Devils winless in six games this season with a 3-0 victory at MTS Centre on Sunday night. Evander Kane scored twice and Andrew Ladd added a late goal for the Jets, who shut out an opponent at home for the first time since March 1, 2012, when they blanked the Florida Panthers 7-0.
The Jets (3-3-0) had lost three in a row, including a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Friday night in which they allowed three first-period goals. That loss began a six-game homestand for the Jets, who are trying to establish a home-ice presence after struggling at MTS Centre for much of last season.
Kane, part of a lineup shuffle that sent him to the Jets' top line, fired eight shots and provided a physical presence all evening. Kane's second-period goal gave the Jets a one-goal lead they nursed until the final minute of the game before he finished the Devils with an empty-net goal with 57 seconds remaining. His three goals tie him for the team lead with Bryan Little.
"I take it upon myself to be one of the leaders in this room and on the ice," Kane said. "Whatever area I feel I need to lead in, whatever the situation is in the game, I want to do that, and I try to do that as much as I can."
Andrew Ladd tacked on a goal with 36.5 seconds remaining.
Jets coach Claude Noel turned to Montoya for the first time this season in place of Ondrej Pavelec, who began the day having faced more shots than any other goaltender in the NHL this season. Montoya had not appeared in a regular-season game since last March 28 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and broke Pavelec's streak of 18 consecutive starts. Montoya earned his first win since last March 7 on the road against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"The team was communicating with me and really letting me see the puck," Montoya said. "I think the team played really well in front of me. For the most part, it was perimeter stuff [from New Jersey]."
Montoya also looked at the game as more than simply an opportunity to rest Pavelec.
"It's not just about that," Montoya said. "It's about giving this team a chance to win as well. I know what I can do. I wanted to play well, I wanted to show what I could do, and I think I did that."
The Devils fell to 0-3-3, and their six-game winless streak is their longest such stretch to begin a season since the franchise relocated to New Jersey from Denver in 1982. New Jersey is 0-2-2 on a five-game trip that ends with a visit to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.
"What's important is to not get discouraged," Devils captain Bryce Salvador said. "We've got a big game in Ottawa, that's for sure. The dressing room here, we're all trying to work and get something going, and it's just not happening right now."
New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer returned center Andrei Loktionov to the lineup and shuffled his lines, including a move that sent Adam Henrique to left wing on the Devils' third line to accommodate Loktionov's return.
"It's disappointing," DeBoer said. "The guys realize where we're at. We've got to step up there and find a way to get him a win, and we didn't do that. We have to do something. We're trying to shuffle lines. We're moving people in and out of the lineup. We've got to find a way to get a win."
Devils goaltender Cory Schneider, returning to the city in which he spent three seasons as a prospect with the Vancouver Canucks in the American Hockey League, stopped 32 shots and kept his team in the game with a number of tremendous saves in the third period.
"Close, but close isn't good enough right now," Schneider said. "We've just got to find a way. It's getting a little late for 'almost' and moral victories."
Noel revamped his top three lines in trying to spark an offense that had produced four goals over its past three games. Kane took Ladd's spot on the team's top line with Little and Blake Wheeler. Noel pushed offseason addition Devin Setoguchi to the right wing of the third line and moved Michael Frolik to the second line's right side. Noel also scratched defenseman Grant Clitsome, who signed a three-year contract extension this summer and was expected to fill the departed Ron Hainsey's top-four spot, and replaced him with Paul Postma.
"I just thought the guys played better," Noel said. "They just played better. We'll see where the lines go but for us right now we've got a lot of positives to build on."
The teams played a scoreless first period in which they combined for 16 shots. Montoya's three point-blank saves during New Jersey's two-man advantage early in the second period held the Devils scoreless. New Jersey produced five shots during separate Winnipeg minors that overlapped and produced a two-man advantage for 1:12.
"That's not an easy role to play to come in after five games," Noel said of Montoya. "I thought that Montoya was really, really good."
The Devils' power play, which began the game ranked 27th in the League, went 0-for-5 and has converted only once in 15 attempts this season.
"If we score," DeBoer said of the Devils' 5-on-3, "I think it's a different game. We've got to generate something there."
Not long after Winnipeg killed off the penalties, Kane scored his second goal of the season at 2:57 to give the Jets the lead. Kane sliced down the left boards, cut to the net and lobbed a shot that glanced off Devils defenseman Andy Greene in the crease and deflected past Schneider.
Montoya stopped Patrik Elias on a breakaway later in the period to hold the 1-0 lead.
Schneider impressed as well. New Jersey had an early third-period power play, but the Devils allowed two Winnipeg shorthanded breakaways. Schneider stopped Kane and Jim Slater and kept the Devils within a goal.
Kane's second goal came with Schneider pulled for a sixth skater, Ladd scored after Schneider returned to the net.
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