MONTREAL – No matter how well the Canadiens play, Martin Brodeur just keeps on beating the team he grew up idolizing.
Zach Parise scored on a breakaway in overtime and Brodeur made 29 saves to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 victory Saturday over Montreal.
“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.”
Brodeur allowed three goals on seven shots at home to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night before the game was postponed due to a lighting issue. But, as is usually the case, he was dominant against the Canadiens to run his career record against Montreal to 37-15-5.
He stopped all 11 shots he faced in the first period, including two highlight reel stops on Mike Cammalleri, and he robbed Andrei Markov and Travis Moen on excellent chances in the second.
“We worked hard for (the two points),” Brodeur said. “That was definitely a fun game to be part of today. You know, a lot of chances on both sides, both goalies had to make unbelievable saves at one point in the game and we pulled it off again.”
Travis Zajac scored in regulation for the Devils (31-10-1), who are 17-4-0 in their last 21 games.
Scott Gomez scored against his former team for the Canadiens (22-22-3), who lost for the third time in four games but still picked up a valuable point against an elite opponent.
“We stuck right in there, played a patient game and got the point out of it, we needed that,” Gomez said. “We can play with anyone when we’re all healthy.”
Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak, coming off a 38-save shutout of the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, was up to the challenge of facing the NHL’s career leader in wins and shutouts.
He made 26 saves, but none were better than two early in the third period when he got across to rob Patrik Elias on a one-timer and did the same to Zajac after a pretty tic-tac-toe play in the Canadiens’ zone. Then, with about 15 seconds to play in regulation, Halak got a pad on a Parise rebound attempt to get the game to overtime.
“We knew they are the best team in the league and that it was going to be a tight game, and it was,” said Halak, who lost for only the second time in his last eight starts. “It could have gone either way. In OT it was about luck and it was about one shot. Unfortunately for us, they scored.”
Some initial misfortune quickly turned into a nice bit of luck for Parise in overtime.
When he broke his stick, Parise decided to return to the bench to get a new one. With a sudden man advantage, all four Canadiens skaters were in the offensive zone looking for the winner, and Parise hung back at the Habs blue line.
Zajac found him and Parise had loads of time to skate in on Halak and beat him with a backhand deke upstairs for his 19th of the season at 2:38 of overtime.
“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.”
The Devils took the lead on their first shot of the game at 4:07 of the first period. Parise did a nice job of corralling a pass from Jamie Langenbrunner at the Montreal blue line before sending a back hand pass to the front of the net. Zajac fought off a Markov check before slipping his 11th of the season through Halak’s legs.
“After the first goal they scored I knew I had to better, because it was a pretty weak goal,” Halak said. “It’s too bad we couldn’t score in the third, but it’s hockey and it’s about goals. They scored two.”
The Canadiens had a number of chances to tie it, but couldn’t overcome Brodeur until they were helped by some luck of their own in the second.
With Rob Niedermayer in the penalty box, Roman Hamrlik took a wrist shot from the point that Brodeur got a piece of with his blocker. The puck bounced off the post and right to Gomez on the doorstep, who put it in the empty net for his sixth of the season at 7:38.
His goal gave Gomez 19 points in his last 20 games, and his line with Benoit Pouliot and 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.”
Notes: The game was New Jersey’s first overtime win of the season. The Devils are 1-0 in overtime and 5-1 in the shootout … It was announced prior to the game that the Devils and Lightning will pick up their game Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Prudential Center. The Lightning are ahead 3-0 at 10:48 of the second period … Canadiens winger Andrei Kostitsyn missed his fourth game with a knee injury. He underwent surgery on the knee Friday and is expected to be out until after the Olympics … Canadiens D Ryan O’Byrne missed his fourth game dealing with a family matter in British Columbia. He’s expected to re-join the team Sunday … Montreal was also without wingers Sergei Kostitsyn (ankle) and Georges Laraque (upper body), meaning Ryan White was in the lineup after his call-up earlier Saturday from Hamilton … Devils winger David Clarkson missed his fifth game with a lower body injury, while C Dainius Zubrus (leg) and D Paul Martin (arm) are on long-term injured reserve.