MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens’ may have found the chemistry needed to form their top line when the regular season starts.
Max Pacioretty scored two goals with the help of linemates David Desharnais and Daniel Briere in Montreal’s 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday in NHL pre-season action.
Pacioretty, who has scored in three straight contests, is confident him and his new linemates are destined for success.
“We’re getting better every day,” said Pacioretty. “We’re talking a lot, we’re working hard, and I felt very comfortable tonight.
“We’re moving the puck real well out there. It feels like we know where each other are and we’ll only get better from there.”
The goals, scored on the back of Pacioretty’s seven shots, were his third and fourth of the pre-season.
Montreal head coach Michel Therrien was equally impressed by the play of Pacioretty, Desharnais, and Briere.
“We can see there’s some chemistry staring to build,” said Therrien. “And that’s a good thing. That’s the reason why we try to put those guys together as much as we can.
“Pacioretty is such a powerful forward. He skates so hard. He’s got great speed. He’s in great shape, he’s powerful, and it’s demanding to play against him when he’s using his speed like that.”
Despite Pacioretty’s two goals, and the overall strength of the line, it was Ryan White’s late third-period goal, a deflection off rookie Jarred Tinordi’s shot that slipped past goaltender Martin Brodeur, that won the game for the Canadiens.
Carey Price stopped 19 shots for the win while Brodeur made 22 saves in defeat.
“With the line-up we had, so many young guys, not regulars, compared to Montreal that had their full team, almost, I think we competed real well,” said Brodeur. “It’s not easy for some of the young guys coming in to a building like that, a full house, to handle themselves. But I thought we did a great job.”
The Canadiens opened the scoring early in the second period when Pacioretty beat Brodeur glove-side on the power play.
Ex-Hab Michael Ryder, who signed with the Devils in July, tied the game minutes later with a high floater from the blue-line that bounced off Price and landed in the net.
Pacioretty restored Montreal’s one-goal lead at 8:32 when he beat Brodeur with a powerful backhander while playing 5-on-4 hockey.
Adam Larsson tied the game 2-2 on a deflected shot from the point at 16:47 of the second before White scored the winner at 16:08 of the third.
The Canadiens close out their pre-season play with a home-and-home series against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday and Thursday.
Montreal’s regular season begins Oct. 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.