Devils rally back from a 2-0 deficit but a late shorthanded goal by Montreal proves to be the difference
MONTREAL, PQ - The New Jersey Devils battled back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game but a shorthanded goal late proved to be the difference as the visitors dropped a 4-2 decision to the Montreal Canadiens.
The Devils play the New York Rangers on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. You can watch that game on MSG or MSG+. Puck drop is 7:08 p.m. MST.
For the winning goal, Jake Evans forced a turnover in the neutral zone and zipped in all alone before firing the puck glove side on Devils goaltender Evan Cormier.
The Habs added an empty-netter in the final minute with Nick Cousins firing the puck from a distance into the open cage.
"We asked them to compete and I thought that's what we did for three periods. It could have been easy for a let down there when we were 2-0, but the guys had good result and a good resolve and we came back in the game," said Devils assistant coach Alain Nasreddine, who acted as the bench boss for this one.
"Never quit and I think that's a positive we got to take out of this game."
Montreal opened the scoring 2:29 into the game. Artturi Lehkonen was positioned in front with the screen, setting up the deflection from Shea Weber's blast from the point.
With 11:46 to go in the opening frame, Montreal struck again to take a 2-0 lead. Nate Thompson banked in a rebound off the rush after Nick Cousins' initial shot from the side boards was kicked out by Mackenzie Blackwood.
Will Butcher felt like the team did have a slow start, acknowledged by the 2-0 early deficit but he thought the team recovered from it nicely.
"I think it took us a little bit to get into it and I think we played an overall solid game for the most part. We had some mix-Ups, but that's going to be what happens in your first pre-season game back," said Butcher.
Kyle Palmieri stole the puck down low and tried a quick backhand attempt from the top of the crease that was smothered by Carey Price.
Max Domi got called for roughing midway through the first to give the Devils the game's first power play.
Price snagged a point shot from Colton White with his glove with just over six minutes left in the first. Shots on goal were 6-4 Devils at this juncture.
New Jersey went back to the man advantage with 3:34 to go in the first. Nick Suzuki upended Damon Severson as the Devils were pressuring to get on the board.
With two seconds left in the power play, Michael McLeod spotted Will Butcher at the left face-off circle. Butcher took a split second before finding his target and wristing the puck over the glove of Price to narrow the gap to 2-1.
After one period, shots on goal were 8-7 for Montreal.
Colton White slashed Jonathan Drouin as the Habs sniper was skating in alone with the puck, resulting in the first power play of the night for the home side.
However, the best scoring chance on that man advantage came shorthanded to the Devils. Kevin Rooney took advantage of a turnover and broke in alone on Price. The Habs goaltender came up with the big stop.
Midway through the period, Carey Price was replaced in goal by Cayden Primeau.
On a two-on-one, Primeau slid across to deny Blake Coleman, who one-timed a feed from Hischier.
Less than a minute later, Jonathan Drouin took a penalty to send the Devils on the power play for a third time on the night.
Late in the second, Dakota Mermis ripped a shot from the point and Brandon Gignac pounced on the rebound for the goal but it was ruled that Nate Bastian had interfered with Primeau and the goal was waved off.
After two, shots on goal were 14-13 for the Devils.
Evan Cormier replaced Blackwood in goal to start the third period.
Less than two minutes into the final frame, Brett Seney dumped the puck in. It took a wild hop off the end boards out front to Michael McLeod, who put it into the open cage with Primeau caught behind the net.
"The goal, he deserved it because all the good stuff he did throughout the game. He had a solid game," said Nasreddine. "His camp has been really good so far. Thegoal was lucky, but I thought he got rewarded for all the good things he did in this game."
Devils continued to press Montreal deep in their end and it forced Montreal to take another penalty. Xavier Oullett was called for tripping with less than 15 minutes to play.
Palmieri got in behind the Montreal defense and backhanded it quickly but Primeau came up with a huge stop to keep the game tied.
Shots on goal six minutes into the third period were 11-1 for the Devils.
With eight minutes to play in the third, Jordan Weal took a penalty to give the Devils another man advantage but Montreal was able to kill it off.
Kevin Rooney knocked Weal into the boards from behind with 5:39 to go in the third, receiving a boarding penalty and giving Montreal a chance to win it late.
With 51 seconds to go in the penalty, the two teams engage in some pushing and shoving behind the Devils net. Domi received the only two minutes to come out of the skirmish, for roughing.
On that Devils power play, Jake Evans scored what would be the game-deciding goal shorthanded.