NEWARK - The Canadiens returned to their winning ways in Newark.
After seeing his team post back-to-back losses against the Red Wings and Penguins earlier in the week, head coach Michel Therrien admitted that he expected more from his troops, especially in the "compete" department.
The Habs responded by stifling the Devils on Friday night, holding the home team to just three shots on goal through the first 33 minutes. They also lit the lamp at the other end of the ice, notching three power play markers to skate away with a 3-1 win in New Jersey.
"I expected a good effort from our team and that's exactly what we got," confirmed Therrien, whose team went 3-for-7 with the man advantage on Friday after having gone 0-for-4 in the last three games. "We put a lot of pressure on them at 5-on-5 and our power play was very good tonight. It was a great team effort. All our lines performed well, the defense was exceptional, and we got good goaltending."
Al Montoya only needed to make 16 stops to register his fourth-straight win - all four of which have come on road ice - to earn his seventh victory of the campaign.
"It's kind of wild. It reminds you of the old Devils," joked the 31-year-old netminder, who faced his fourth shot of the game 33:13 into the outing. "It was tough, but I'd take this any night. Your team is playing fantastic in front of you and halfway through the game it's 1-1. These guys did a phenomenal job and I just wanted to make that next save. You just try to stay focused. The guys were playing great in front of me so it was only a matter of time before we got our chances and capitalized."
The Canadiens took advantage of the man advantage, potting three power play markers in a single game for the first time this season. While Alexander Radulov (3A) and Alex Galchenyuk (1G, 2A) each enjoyed three-point nights against the Devils, they both insist Friday's win was the result of a complete team effort.
"I think we made great plays. We were trying to help each other," explained Galchenyuk, who got the Habs on the board in the first period, before chipping in with assists on Shea Weber and Max Pacioretty's third period goals. "When one guy had the puck, we tried to give him close support and be more involved - not too spread out. And when we had opportunities to shoot, we would take a shot. We have so much skill in here and I think we really used it. We trusted our skillset today."
While it's been suggested that Galchenyuk "rediscovered" his scoring touch in New Jersey - his fourth game since returning from an 18-game absence with a knee injury - the night's first star doesn't think you can rekindle your offensive spark if it was never out to begin with.
"It's funny because I think such a big deal was made of if I lost my game and stuff like that, but I knew I could go out there and just play my game," stressed the 22-year-old sniper, who has now scored 11 goals in 29 games this season. "Last game, we didn't get a lot of scoring opportunities and obviously as a team we weren't satisfied with that. We knew we were going to bounce back. I think everybody from the start was going to the net. We worked on the power play a lot and it definitely paid off. It sealed the game for us.
"I think we played a solid overall road game," he added. "But at the same time we have a game tomorrow so now we're excited about that.