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Devils 3, Canadiens 0 @NHL

MONTREAL (AP) -For the second day in a row, the surging New Jersey Devils were solid from their superstar goalie on out to cap a very successful weekend in Canada.

Martin Brodeur made 28 saves for his NHL-leading seventh shutout of the season and Brian Gionta scored twice, lifting New Jersey to a 3-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.

Mike Rupp scored his third goal 2:21 in, and Scott Gomez and Brian Rafalski each had two assists for the Devils, who have won three in a row, including a 3-2 win in Ottawa on Saturday.

"It's huge. Things are so tight still," Gionta said. "We're just trying to gain some ground and we played two good teams, so to win back-to-back on the road is pretty good."

New Jersey, which moved six points ahead of the New York Rangers atop the Atlantic Division, has won six games while remaining undefeated in regulation in its last seven (6-0-1).

"We've learned to play with each other and we have faith in what our coaches are trying to accomplish," Brodeur said. "There's good chemistry in the lines and everyone is getting their game together."

Brodeur, who leads the league with 25 wins, is third in career shutouts with 87. He trails George Hainsworth (94) and Terry Sawchuck (103).

"I've always said that we've got the best goaltender in the league and he's proven that over the years," coach Claude Julien said. "He's a great team player, he's a great leader in our dressing room, and he's very modest with everything he does and I think that's probably the key to his success right now."

Gionta, who scored late in the first to put New Jersey up 2-0, got his second of the game - his team-leading 19th - on a power play 12:47 into the third.

Devils defenseman Brad Lukowich needed several stitches to close a gash over his right eye after he was struck by Michael Ryder's high stick, which resulted in a double minor to the Canadiens right wing that led to Gionta's second goal.

Montreal lost three in a row for the first time this season. Canadiens captain Saku Koivu and rookie Guillaume Latendresse returned to the lineup after missing Saturday's 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers because of the flu.

Center Tomas Plekanec - who scored his third goal in three games the day before - didn't dress Sunday, the latest victim of the virus that has sickened a number of Montreal players since Thursday's 5-1 loss in Washington.

"I can't say percentage-wise how much of the losses are becase of the flu," Koivu said. "In Washington, a couple of guys were vomiting on the bench and it's been going on for a few days where guys have been playing sick. But this was really similar to the last couple of games against them. They'd score a couple and then shut us down."

Cristobal Huet stopped 34 shots for the Canadiens, who had lost consecutive games in regulation only once this season prior to their current losing streak, which head coach Guy Carbonneau noted has come about while a number of his key players have been under the weather.

"Hopefully it's over. We'll turn the page and move on," said Carbonneau, a star defensive forward during a 19-season career between 1980-2000. "It's the worst I've seen in all my years. Having three games in four nights didn't help either becase there was no time to recuperate."

Notes: The Devils have won seven straight against the Canadiens, who haven't beaten New Jersey since a 3-2 win in Montreal on March 20, 2004. ... Julien, who was fired and replaced behind the Canadiens bench by GM Bob Gainey just under one year ago, has won each of the three games he has coached against his former team this season. ... New Jersey has taken 18 of a possible 22 points (8-1-2) in its last 11 games. ... Canadiens C Radek Bonk was sidelined by a jaw injury after he was struck by a puck during Saturday's game.

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