The New Jersey Devils and Montreal Canadiens faced upper-echelon opponents with starkly different results Monday afternoon.
While the Devils could not put any of their scoring chances in the back of the net in a visit to the Boston Bruins, the Canadiens provided their fans with plenty of goals against the Colorado Avalanche.
Attempting to make up deficits in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the two get together Wednesday night when the Devils host the Canadiens in Newark, N.J.
The Devils skated to a 5-2 win in Montreal on Oct. 24 as part of their quick, 6-2-1 start. Since those nine games, they are 16-14-2, but they have gone 6-3-1 since losing three straight home games Dec. 17-21.
However, New Jersey enters Wednesday’s game off a 3-0 loss at Boston. Facing the best team in the East, the Devils ended a three-game road trip by getting blanked for the second time this season two days after scoring a 4-1 road win over the Florida Panthers, who own the second-most points in the East.
Nico Daws made 36 saves against Florida and 33 against Boston, and it is possible he is overtaking Vitek Vanecek as New Jersey’s top goalie. Since joining the Devils this season, he is 3-2-0 with a 2.63 goals-against average in five games after going 10-11-1 with a 3.11 GAA two seasons ago.
New Jersey also is 1-2-1 since losing Jack Hughes to upper-body injury Jan. 5 and has been without Ondrej Palat (lower body) and Timo Meier (undisclosed) since Dec. 30. The Devils also lost defenseman Brendan Smith to a leg injury Monday, and he could miss Wednesday’s contest.
“I think with the number of personnel we’ve had out, we played well enough to win the game in Tampa, played well enough to win in Florida and we gave ourselves a chance (in Boston),” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said.
“The goalie gave us a chance early on, I thought our second period was strong, we just didn’t find a way to put the puck in the net.”
The Devils are starting a stretch during which they will play 11 of their next 17 games on home ice.
Montreal is attempting to earn consecutive wins for the first time since Dec. 16-18. Since their last winning streak, the Canadiens are 4-5-3.
Monday, the Canadiens snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 home win over the Colorado Avalanche, whose 59 points are the third-most in the West.
Jake Allen made seven of his 32 saves on Colorado star Nathan MacKinnon while Joel Armia scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:10 remaining in the third period.
Montreal won its 13th one-goal game, tying Dallas and Washington for the league lead. The Canadiens also scored four goals for the 13th time and the fourth instance since their previous winning streak.
Cole Caufield and Juraj Slafkovsky netted power-play goals, marking the fourth time Montreal scored twice on the man advantage.
“Probably just our group effort,” Montreal captain Nick Suzuki said of a game in which 10 players registered a point and the defense blocked 30 shots. “Got some goals from other lines. When we were out there against (Nathan) MacKinnon’s line, all five of us were doing a real good job.
“They got some chances, it’s going to happen, but just our five-man game was really good tonight against them. It definitely made a difference in the game.”
–Field Level Media
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