DEVILS (30-10-1) at CANADIENS (22-21-3)
New Jersey 8-2-0; Montreal 7-3-0
Second of four meetings this season. Patrik Elias
scored with 2:36 left in the third period and New Jersey claimed a 2-1 win on home ice Dec. 16.
Big story: Martin Brodeur
returns to play in Montreal for the first time since he dramatically tied Patrick Roy's all-time wins record last March. And while one can never be sure with Devils coach Jacques Lemaire, who once started rookie Mike Dunham over Brodeur in his hometown, there seems to be little doubt No. 30 will be in net Saturday. He has played in all but two of his team's games this season.
For much of the season, New Jersey's play has been lights out. However, on Friday night it was a bank of lights at Prudential Center that literally went out midway through the second period against Tampa Bay, causing the game to eventually be postponed after a delay of nearly two hours. The Devils were trailing the Lightning 3-0 at the time play was halted, despite holding a 20-7 advantage in shots.
"I've never seen anything like this in my playing career," defenseman Mike Mottau said. "To kill time, we just kind of talked, hung out and rode the bike. If we do need to replay it, we will. We actually were playing pretty well and got kind of a bad break on their third goal but we were confident in the room even during the break."
The trade in which Montreal sent Guillaume Latendresse to Minnesota for another young and somewhat underachieving forward in Benoit Pouliot seems to be paying off for both teams. Pouliot was injured when he first joined the Canadiens, but since coming back into the lineup he's been a sparkplug. He's scored four goals in eight games, including the decisive tally in a 2-0 win over Florida on Thursday.
"A goal is a goal and I'll take it either way. Scoring the game-winning goal is even better," Pouliot said. "And I'm getting more ice time than ever, which is definitely a plus."
"It was an amazing feeling to hear my name announced at the Bell Centre for the first time like that. It gave me goosebumps. Montreal isn't like any other city. I'm just happy to have that first goal already behind me."
Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner has five goals and eight points during a five-game points streak, while Patrik Elias
has seven goals and nine assists in his last 14 games.
Jaroslav Halak has emerged as the Canadiens' top goalie of late, winning six of his last seven starts and posting a .954 save percentage during that span. He stopped all 38 shots the Panthers took Thursday, posting his sixth career shutout.
New Jersey defenseman Paul Martin (left arm) and forwards David Clarkson
(right leg) and Dainius Zubrus
(right kneecap) are on injured reserve.
Montreal forward Andrei Kostitsyn
underwent knee surgery Friday and is out indefinitely. His brother, Sergei Kostitsyn, will miss Saturday's game with a left ankle injury. The status of defenseman Ryan O'Byrne, who has been out due to personal reasons, is uncertain.
Montreal had lost four straight games at the Bell Centre before defeating Florida, their longest losing streak on home ice since the 2000-01 season. … Brodeur stopped 22 shots in a 3-1 win on March 14, 2009, his last road start against the Habs.
New Jersey plays for the second time in as many nights, although the Devils probably did more sitting around and waiting Friday than they did skating and shooting.
"We tried our darndest to get this game in tonight," President/CEO/GM Lou Lamoriello said after PSE&G determined the problem with the lights could not be fixed Friday night. "We waited as long as we possibly could with the hopes that they could do something."