Sticks that break at the wrong time are the bane of NHL players, Zach Parise is the rare player whose stick broke at just the right time -- for his own team.
With the Montreal Canadiens buzzing the New Jersey zone in overtime, Parise's stick snapped in two. He was able to swing by the bench, pick up a new one -- and use it to grab a breakaway pass from Travis Zajac and beat Jaroslav Halak with a backhander at 2:38 to give the Devils a stunning 2-1 win at the Bell Centre on Saturday night.
The Canadiens apparently forgot about Parise after he broke his stick.
"I was hiding along the far blue line, and luckily Travis won the battle when he did," Parise said after the Eastern Conference-leading Devils improved to 17-4-0 in their last 21 games. "They didn't have enough time to get back."
Halak, who lose for just the second time in his last eight starts, made 26 saves and was the equal of Brodeur until the winning goal.
"We knew they are the best team in the league and that it was going to be a tight game, and it was," Halak said. "It could have gone either way. In OT it was about luck and it was about one shot. Unfortunately for us, they scored."
It was the Devils' first game to be decided in the overtime period. Their previous six games that went past regulation all were decided in shootouts -- with New Jersey winning five.
Martin Brodeur stopped 29 of 30 shots for his League-high 28th win of the season, one night after allowing three goals on seven shots to TampaBay before the game was postponed due to a lighting failure. The Devils learned before Saturday's faceoff that the postponed game will be completed at the PrudentialCenter on Sunday evening.
Brodeur, a Montreal native, improved to 37-15-5 in 57 career starts against the Canadiens. He has more wins against Montreal than any other non-divisional opponent.
"It seems like Marty always saves his best for when we come up to Montreal and he was awesome," Parise said. "He definitely kept us in the game."
Coach Jacques Lemaire agreed that Brodeur was on top of his game.
"Marty gives us a chance to stay in the game and we got a break at the end," Lemaire said. "The break was Zach broke his stick and came to the bench and I guess they didn't know he was at the bench."
Brodeur credited Parise with a smart play on the game-winner.
"It was kind of a lucky little bit of a heads-up play from him," Brodeur said. "He could have stayed in the play and tried to do anything without a stick but he went in and got his new stick and got a breakaway and scored, so it's a heads-up play from a good player."
New Jersey opened the scoring 4:07 into the game on Zajac's second goal in two completed games. Zajac, who scored in New Jersey's 4-0 win over Dallas on Tuesday, put a backhander through Halak's pads for his 11th goal.
Scott Gomez tied it during a power play 6:28 into the second period, slapping home a puck that was loose in the crease after Roman Hamrlik's wrist shot from the point caromed off Brodeur's blocker and hit the right post
The goal gave Gomez, a former Devil, 19 points in his last 19 games, and his line with Benoit Pouliot and ex-Devil Brian Gionta has been the Canadiens' most dangerous over the past four games.
"It still can improve," Gomez said. "We're getting chances, but we're still a couple of miscues off."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report