MONTREAL – P.K. Subban may want to don goalie pads the next time he takes to the ice.
Subban made two dramatic goal-line saves in Montreal’s 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday night, helping the Canadiens extend their seven-game point streak.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think I’ll be taking (Carey) Price’s job anytime soon,” said Subban. “He’s got that pretty locked down. The amount of times that he’s bailed me out, I don’t mind stepping in there.”
With the score still tied 0-0 early in the game, Subban got his outstretched stick on a Jaromir Jagr shot from inside the crease, denying the star forward of a sure goal.
Subban later shut the door on Devils (11-12-5) forward Damien Brunner, crashing into the net and blocking the shot to keep the Canadiens (16-9-3) in front 2-1 at the start of the third.
“I just happened to be in the position today where the puck was there, and cleared it out,” said Subban. “Just trying to do my job.
In addition to the two saves, Subban ended the night with his team-leading 20th assist and five blocked shots in 23:34 of work.
And despite calling Subban out on his defensive liabilities last month, head coach Michel Therrien had only positive things to say about his flamboyant defenceman.
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s playing his best hockey. His focus is at the right place,” said Therrien. “He’s doing a fabulous job for the team. We’re putting him out there against top players game in and game out. And he loves that challenge. And it’s not a coincidence that we’re having success, that we pick up wins.
“He’s certainly one of the best defencemen right now.”
At the other end of the ice, Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur could have used similar help. Brodeur, who’s usually successful at the Bell Centre with 19 wins in 30 career starts, allowed three goals on only 17 shots.
The Montreal native thought it was tough to get into the game when he wasn’t being kept busy.
“Usually when I don’t have any shots, what helps me is that I’m used to playing the puck,” said Brodeur. “When I get no shots, I’m able to stay in the game. But when I get no shots, and I can’t play the puck, the games are long.
“It’s tough to get going. Not before the third period that I felt good, and I started making some saves.”
Brodeur also credited Subban for handing his Devils their first regulation loss at Montreal since 2008.
“We missed a couple of open-netters that their defenceman made some great plays on,” said Brodeur. “At the end I think that made the difference.”
After Subban made his first save of the game, Steve Bernier opened the scoring at 11:13 of the first period after sustained pressure by New Jersey. Bernier was left all alone in front of the net and beat Price on his blocker side by deflecting an Anton Volchenkov shot from the point.
The Canadiens levelled the score at 8:49 of the second when Rene Bourque took a no-look, behind-the-back pass from David Desharnais and scored his sixth of the year, short side.
With Dainius Zubrus in the box for interference, Max Pacioretty broke the deadlock on the power play at 16:49, taking a cross-ice pass from Andrei Markov and firing home from the face-off circle to Brodeur’s left.
“I started out slowly,” said Pacioretty, who didn’t register a shot in the first period. “Everything was bouncing away from me in the first. I got a couple there in the second, and let loose. It took me half the game to get into it.”
Shortly after Subban’s second save, former Canadiens forward Michael Ryder made it 2-2 early in the third period when he rifled a slapshot in to the top corner of the net with Douglas Murray trying to get in his way.
“I just tried to make sure to get it on net,” said Ryder. “I saw the defender was trying to block it. I tried to get it upstairs, and I managed to find a way in.”
Alex Galchenyuk scored the winner for the Canadiens at 9:34, netting his seventh of the season into a gaping net after an Alexei Emelin shot fortuitously landed on his stick.
Price made 28 saves for his 12th win of the year, and now has a 2.39 goals-against average in 18 career games against New Jersey.
The game was the first of a home-and-home series between the Canadiens and Devils. The teams face off again on Wednesday in New Jersey.
Notes: The Devils were without Adam Larsson (lower body), Stephen Gionta (ankle) and Ryan Clowe (head).…Ryan White and Francis Bouillon were healthy scratches for Montreal.…The Canadiens have allowed two goals or fewer in their last 11 games.