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Canadiens-Devils Preview @NHL
Canadiens-Devils Preview

GAME: Montreal Canadiens (13-3-3) at New Jersey Devils (8-8-2).

TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The New Jersey Devils know firsthand the negative effects injuries can have on a team's offense, but the Montreal Canadiens are hoping for a different experience.

When the Devils host the Canadiens at the Continental Airlines Arena Friday night, Montreal will look to win its second straight game without one of its top offensive players in injured right wing Alexei Kovalev.

Kovalev is expected to miss about six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday. He had seven goals and 12 assists in 18 games this season.

In the Canadiens' first game without Kovalev, leading scorer Saku Koivu scored his second goal of the game with four seconds to play in overtime Tuesday during a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers.

"We had a short meeting before the game about how we have to show that we are a team," said Koivu, who leads the Canadiens with seven goals and 16 assists. "It's not about one guy or one line, it's how we are going to react under adversity, and I thought we did a very good job."

Koivu is scoreless in his last five games against New Jersey dating back to Jan. 7, 2003.

Steve Begin scored and Richard Zednik recorded a goal and an assist in the victory, giving the Canadiens their league best 11th one-goal win.

While the Canadiens are looking to build on their success, the Devils are hoping to make a turnaround.

Scott Gomez scored New Jersey's only goal in a 4-1 loss Tuesday to the Buffalo Sabres. Grant Marshall assisted on the tally, giving him two goals and three assists in three games.

The Devils played without two of their top five scorers, Alexander Mogilny (concussion) and Viktor Kozlov (illness). Patrik Elias (hepatitis A), who had 38 goals and 43 goals in 2003-04, has yet to play this season.

New Jersey scored 36 goals in 11 October games, an average of 3.27 per game. But in seven games this month the Devils have managed only 16 goals, an average of 2.28 a contest.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 17): Canadiens - 29 points, 1st place, Northeast Division. Devils - 18 points, 4th place (tied), 7 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 8 goals; Koivu, 16 assists and 23 points; Begin, 45 PIM. Devils - Brian Gionta, 10 goals and 17 points; Gomez, 9 assists; Jamie Langenbrunner, 24 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 17): Canadiens - Power play: 20.1 percent (25 for 124), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.6 percent (105 for 127), 14th. Devils - Power play: 19.2 percent (20 for 104), 9th. Penalty killing: 84.8 percent (84 for 99), 8th.

GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Jose Theodore (10-3-3, 0 SO, 2.95 GAA); Yann Danis (3-0-0, 1, 1.87). Devils - Martin Brodeur (6-6-0, 0, 3.45); Scott Clemmensen (2-2-2, 0, 3.32).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Canadiens, 2-1-1.

LAST MEETING: March 20, 2004; Canadiens, 3-2. At Montreal, Ryder had a goal and an assist and Theodore made 35 saves to lead the Canadiens to victory.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 6-0-2 on the road; Devils - 5-4-1 at home.

Associated Press
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