MONTREAL (AP) — After a sluggish start, four days off may be just what the New Jersey Devils needed to get back on track. A trip to Montreal shouldn’t hurt either.
New Jersey looks to continue its recent mastery of the Canadiens when the teams meet Thursday night at Bell Centre.
The Devils (1-4-1) are tied for last in the league with three points as they continue to struggle at both ends of the rink. They are last in the Eastern Conference with 10 goals and are tied for 27th in the NHL with 21 allowed.
“I think we needed to work on our game a bit,” Martin Brodeur told the team’s official website. “It’s obvious. Definitely, it was helpful just to come in and not have to think about what we just did. It’s in the past now, and we’ll try to move forward here. Practice time, hopefully that helped to iron out some of the issues.”
Brodeur is 38-16-5 all-time against the Canadiens and his 1.78 goals-against average and .931 save percentage are his best marks against any opponent.
He will start Thursday night and is enthusiastic about the matchup.
“You get to Montreal, guys that are not from there, they’re so excited to play there because of what it means to the crowd,” he said. “Definitely we’re looking forward to playing and hopefully it sparks something.”
The Devils have won seven of eight meetings against the Canadiens and are 16-4 against them since the start of the 2005-06 season. They have won four straight in Montreal with their last loss coming March 11, 2008.
After finishing with a team-high 82 points last season, Zach Parise has just two through six games thus far. He recorded an assist in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Boston – his first point since the season opener – and is confident the team will snap out of its funk.
“I think the attitude’s been better, today especially,” he said. “We’ve just got to relax. Everyone is so tight right now, we can barely make a pass out there. We just need to relax and play. We’re just a little too uptight. Having a slow start can do that to you.”
The Canadiens (3-1-1) are also coming off a nice break, having had four days off of their own since defeating Ottawa 4-3 on Saturday.
Carey Price stopped 16 of 19 shots as he picked up his third win of the season.
“I didn’t face a whole lot of work, but it just shows our guys are working out there to help me,” he said.
Montreal got out to an early lead thanks to captain Brian Gionta’s first-period goal, his first of the season. Gionta and teammate Scott Gomez, both former Devils, have started off slow with a combined four points but coach Jacques Martin is counting on Thursday’s matchup to get the duo going.
“You hope tomorrow it’s the right team in town,” said Martin. “That’s the team that gave them their first opportunity, they spent a lot of time there and they had success. That will be a good start.”
The Canadiens finished second in the NHL with a 21.8 power-play percentage in 2009-10 but are second from the bottom after converting 1 of 17 (5.9 percent) with the man advantage this season.
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