MONTREAL (CP) - Martin Brodeur made 33 saves as the New Jersey Devils gave coach Claude Julien a 2-1 win over Montreal on Saturday night in his first game back since he was fired by the Canadiens last season.
Jay Pandolfo and Brian Rafalski scored for New Jersey (7-5-1), which has won three of its last four games.
Christopher Higgins got his eighth of the season for Montreal (7-3-3), which ended a run of four games with at least one point.
Brodeur posted his 30th career victory over Montreal, his home city, in a tightly played match that could have gone either way. Cristobal Huet was also sharp making 27 saves for the Canadiens.
"I'm happy with the game we played," said Carbonneau. "Unfortunately, we faced a goaltender who was solid. We had good speed and good chances, but it was just one of those nights."
Brodeur's chance for an 84th career shutout vanished when Higgins tipped a Craig Rivet shot and the puck dribbled through and into the net during a Montreal power play at 13:46 of the second period.
Brodeur had robbed Alex Kovalev earlier with a glove save from the slot.
He said the team wanted to win one for the coach, but then again, he never has trouble getting up for Montreal.
"In New Jersey, when you have 8,000 people in the building, it can be a little hard to get motivated," Brodeur said. "But in Montreal, I think everyone in the room likes to come here not only for the city, but for the hockey atmosphere and the importance hockey is given here.
"We're very happy to get the two points. The Canadiens are playing well. We didn't dominate the game, but we're happy to get the win."
Brodeur got a scare in the third period when he was bowled over by Montreal rookie Guillaume Latendresse and got hit on the side of the mask by a skate. He resumed play after a visit from the trainer.
"I was a bit stunned," he said. "It's scary when you think you're cut and you can't feel any blood."
The teams were each a man short when Pandolfo opened the scoring at 12:29, completing a tic-tac-toe play with Colin White and John Madden with a shot into an open side.
A wildly bouncing puck in the crease ended up on Rafalski's stick for a power-play goal - the first allowed by Montreal's penalty killers in 22 chances- at 10:52 of the second frame that proved to be the game-winner.
New Jersey centre Travis Zajac missed half the first period while getting repairs after he was cut under the eye by Latendresse's stick.
Kovalev was helped off with a minute left in the second frame favouring his right knee, which had surgery last season, but he returned for the final period. And Higgins hurt his left ankle, but didn't miss a shift. Carbonneau said both were OK.
The Canadiens remain at home to face the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night before playing four in a row on the road. The Devils play Tuesday at home against Carolina, who they beat 4-0 in their season opener on Oct. 6.
Notes - F Scott Gomez, who suffered a groin injury this week, did not play. D Brad Lukowich (bruised foot) missed a fourth game for the Devils. D Richard Matvichuk (back), D David Hale (eye), and F Jason Wiemer (knee) are out with long-term injuries. . New Jersey was 4-0 against Montreal last season and last lost in the regular season to the Canadiens in March 2004. . D Mathieu Dandenault (leg) and D Francis Bouillon (knee) are out long-term for Montreal.