EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Scott Niedermayer had two chances in the
closing seconds of overtime to give Martin Brodeur his 400th win and the New
Jersey Devils an eighth straight playoff berth.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Mathieu Garon denied Niedermayer's first
opportunity and a goal post took away the second on Friday night as the Devils
and Canadiens skated to a 1-1 tie.
``It would have been nice to score there,'' Niedermayer said after the
Devils moved within a point of clinching a playoff berth. ``The second one hit
the post. The first one I kind of shot back into him.''
Garon was prone when he stopped Niedermayer on the first attempt. He said
the second shot was close to going in.
``It was a tough battle,'' Garon said of the opener of the home-and-home
series that concludes in Montreal on Saturday night.
``Playing against Marty Brodeur, you're not allowed to make any mistakes
because he's not going to give up many goals,'' Garon said.
Brodeur finished with 30 saves and gave credit to his rival, who had 29.
``He played well the whole game and made some incredible saves,'' Brodeur
said. ``He got a little lucky at the end with a post. That's the way it goes.
You don't expect to clinch every time on the first try.''
Brodeur is on the verge of a historic milestone. He would be the eighth
goaltender to win 400 games, and the youngest at 31.
Jay Pandolfo scored for the Devils, who can advance to the postseason with
either a win or tie, or a tie or loss by Buffalo.
Yanic Perreault scored for the Canadiens, whose 88 points put them within
three of clinching a postseason berth. Montreal is 10-1-1-1 in its last 13
New Jersey maintained its two-point lead over Montreal in the race for sixth
place in the Eastern Conference. The Devils are four points behind the
Philadelphia Flyers in the chase for first in the Atlantic Division.
New Jersey has played two fewer games than the Flyers.
Saku Koivu was stopped by Brodeur on a wraparound in the opening seconds of
overtime and Alex Kovalev was stopped on a 30-footer.
The Canadiens were a step faster than the Devils in the first period, and
they left the ice with a 1-0 lead after outshooting New Jersey 15-8.
Perreault got his fourth goal in four games, stuffing a rebound past Brodeur
Richard Zednik made the play, collecting a loose puck in center ice and
skating around defenseman Colin White to set up a quick shot from above the
right circle that Brodeur could only block.
New Jersey thought it tied the game with 8:23 left in the period, but the
goal was nullified after a videotape review showed that Elias had his stick too
high when he deflected Ray Giroux's shot.
Pandolfo tied the game 1:19 into the second period, chipping a centering
pass by John Madden over Garon for his 13th goal, tying his career high.
The goal culminated a great shift during which Paul Martin and Pandolfo also
had good scoring chances.