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Is this the last game in Montreal for Devils' Brodeur?

by Arpon Basu

DEVILS (19-18-10) at CANADIENS (26-15-5)


Last 10: New Jersey 4-3-3; Montreal 5-3-2

Season series: This is the third of three games between the Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils this season. The Canadiens won the first two games between the teams by sweeping a home and home series, winning 3-2 at home Dec. 2 and 4-3 in a shootout in Newark on Dec. 4.

Big story: With this being the final regular season Devils game in Montreal in 2013-14, the possibility that it will also be New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur's final game in his home town exists. Brodeur, 41, recently entertained the possibility that though his heart may want him to play another season, his body may force him not to.

Brodeur will not make that decision until after the season, but for now he has a game to play in a building that has been very kind to him. In 30 career starts at Bell Centre, Brodeur has a 19-9-1 record with a 1.66 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.

This will be Brodeur's first start in a week after Cory Schneider started three games in a row, and he says he will probably take some time to appreciate the experience a little more, knowing it could be his final game in Montreal.

"I think you kind of enjoy a little more some of the visits you make because you know you're not going to play forever," Brodeur said after practice in Montreal on Monday, according to The (Bergen) Record. "So, sometimes you catch yourself looking up and being in the moment and really enjoying what's going on at the time."

Team scope:

Devils: New Jersey has not lost in regulation in its past four games (2-0-2), but offense continues to be a major problem for coach Peter DeBoer's club. Over their past 10 games the Devils have scored more than two goals once, and that came in a 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 3.

What has kept the Devils above water over that stretch, as is often the case for this franchise, has been defense and goaltending. Over those same 10 games the Devils allowed more than two goals in regulation time twice, and both games were against the high-scoring Blackhawks.

Schneider was outstanding in goal in starting the past three games in a row, allowing four goals on 81 shots for a .951 save percentage, but the Devils have made life difficult for opposing teams in their own end. Over their past seven games, they've allowed 30 shots on goal once, and their 25 shots against per game this season is the fewest in the NHL.

Canadiens: Canadiens coach Michel Therrien is not one to mess with a winning formula, so it's no surprise he won’t be touching his lineup coming off the biggest win of the season for his team. So the line of Tomas Plekanec, Travis Moen and Brian Gionta that was built to shut down the Blackhawks line of Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp in Montreal's 2-1 overtime win on Saturday will remain intact, and will likely have a heavy dose of New Jersey's top line of Travis Zajac, Jaromir Jagr and Dainius Zubrus.

The Plekanec line had 16 shots on goal, with Plekanec getting 11 by himself, playing almost exclusively against the Toews line, but Moen says that those hefty shot totals were a result of the line's play at the other end of the ice.

"We learned a lot about ourselves in that last game, the defense-first mentality," Moen said. "If you play strong in your own end, you're going to get chances in their end."

Who's hot: For the Devils, right wing Michael Ryder has four goals in his past five games, and defenseman Marek Zidlicky has six points in his past six games. … For the Canadiens, defenseman Andrei Markov scored both goals against the Blackhawks, snapping a nine-game goal drought. Goaltender Carey Price, who will start against New Jersey, has allowed one goal in each of his past two starts, both wins.

Injury report: The Devils are missing left wing Patrik Elias (upper body), right wing Damien Brunner (knee), center Jacob Josefson (illness) and defenseman Peter Harrold (foot). … The Canadiens are missing defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder), forward Alex Galchenyuk (hand) and forward Ryan White (upper body).

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