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Canadiens need win against desperate Devils

by John Kreiser

CANADIENS (41-30-7) at DEVILS (36-36-5)


Last 10:
 Montreal 4-6-0; New Jersey 5-4-1

Season series: It's the last of four games in a season series that has seen the road team win all three so far. The teams haven't seen each other since New Jersey won 4-1 at Montreal on Feb. 6.

Big story: The good thing for the Canadiens is that they're well-rested, having been off for the last two days after Wednesday's 6-2 loss at Carolina, while the Devils played Friday night -- they beat Philadelphia 4-2 at home. The bad: They've struggled on the road (18-19-1) and they're facing a rested Martin Brodeur, who had the night off on Friday and enjoys nothing more than beating the team he grew up watching.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: Montreal has some work to do to clinch a playoff spot. The Canadiens are sixth in the East, two points ahead of the Sabres and Rangers and five in front of ninth-place Carolina, which whipped the Habs 6-2 on Wednesday in their last game.

With three of their last four games away from the Bell Centre, the Canadiens know they can't take anything for granted.

"We need a couple of good road efforts. Tomorrow we get a brand new shot at playing better on the road and all the guys are ready for it," said goaltender Carey Price, who is expected to make his League-leading 70th start but has been lifted in each of his last three road games.

Devils: It's too late to help their playoff hopes, but the Devils will be more than happy to welcome back star forward Zach Parise, who plans to be in the lineup for the first time since going down with a knee injury in late October. He missed 65 games -- and he expects to be a little nervous.

"I already kind of am, definitely will be," Parise told the team's website. "I guess it's kind of like the first game of the year all over again. Yeah, a little nervous, for sure."

Who's hot: Canadiens defenseman James Wisniewski assisted on both goals at Carolina, giving him nine multi-point games since coming from the Islanders in a midseason trade. … Devils forward Patrik Elias had his eighth career hat trick Friday, with all three goals set up by Brian Rolston.

Injury report: 
Montreal forward Max Pacioretty, sidelined since a crushing hit by Boston's Zdeno Chara, has started skating again. Forward Jeff Halpern didn't make the trip due to an undisclosed injury. … Devils defenseman Colin White has missed three games with a lower-body injury.

Stat pack: 
No team has enjoyed the kind of success the Devils have against the Canadiens. Since the franchise relocated from Colorado to New Jersey in 1982-83, the Devils are 56-35-8-1. The Canadiens are just 4-23-4-1 in New Jersey since March 29, 1994. Much of that success is due to Brodeur, whose 40 wins are the most he's had against any non-division opponent.

Puck drop: Technically, the Devils still have a chance to make the playoffs for the 14th straight season -- all they need to do is win their five remaining games while Buffalo or the Rangers lose all of theirs. The odds are astronomical, but Elias isn't giving up.

"Mathematically we're still in, so we're just playing," he said. "We'll try to play well, try to work hard, have fun doing it, we'll see where we're at in five games."

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