Devils

Clarkson, Parise Lead Charge As Devils Battle Past Canadiens

Forwards Combine For 4 Goals, Kovalchuk Has 3 Assists In 5-3 Victory
Dainius Zubrus

The Devils’ Dainius Zubrus, center, is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the third period against the visiting Canadiens on Feb. 2, 2012. New Jersey went on to win 5-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey Devils shook off a sluggish start and an early two-goal hole to stay perfect since the All Star break.

Zach Parise scored two goals, including the go-ahead tally with 2:44 remaining, and the Devils beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-3 on Thursday night. It was a satisfying follow-up to their comeback shootout win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

David Clarkson also scored twice, including an empty-netter in the final seconds. Dainius Zubrus added a goal, and Ilya Kovalchuk had three assists for the Devils. Martin Brodeur made 27 saves.

David Desharnais, Andrei Kostitsyn and Mathieu Darche scored for Montreal, which had 18 saves from Carey Price.

Parise’s second goal gave the Devils their first lead. He deflected Kovalchuk’s shot past Price to break a 3-3 tie, and Clarkson finished the scoring for the Devils, who had trailed 2-0 and 3-1.

It started badly for New Jersey as Desharnais and Kostitsyn staked Montreal to a 2-0 lead in the first period.

Rene Bourque had multiple swipes at the puck deep in the Devils zone before flipping a shot that glanced in off Desharnais at 4:11. Kostitsyn, alone in the slot, spun and put the rebound of Yannick Weber’s point shot past Brodeur at 9:23.

The Devils were being badly outplayed, prompting coach Pete DeBoer to use his timeout to settle his team.

“On the bench, we never felt we were out of the game,” DeBoer said. “It was a good feeling that there was a lot of hockey left and that we could climb back in.”

It started with Parise’s first goal at 10:36 of the first, cutting New Jersey’s deficit to 2-1. Skating down the left wing, Parise fired a long-range shot from the circle that slipped under Price’s right leg.

“It’s a good thing when you respond,” Parise said. “You find yourself right back in the game. I was just trying to get it on net.”

The Devils came close to getting even 52 seconds into the second period when Kovalchuk fired a shot that Price partially blocked. The puck trickled behind him, and the referees ruled it didn’t completely cross the goal line. The call was upheld by a video review.

Seconds later, Raphael Diaz was whistled for interference, giving the Devils a power play. However, Darche scored a short-handed goal at 1:25 to give Montreal a 3-1 lead. The goal was set up by a breakaway by Tomas Plekanec that Brodeur foiled with a sprawling save, but Darche put in the rebound.

New Jersey has allowed an NHL-worst 13 short-handed goals.

The Devils had a video review go their way on the power-play goal by Clarkson that made it 3-2. Kovalchuk fired a point shot that hit a Montreal defender in the leg before glancing in off Clarkson’s skate at 13:43. The review confirmed that Clarkson didn’t kick the puck into the net, giving him a career high 18 goals this season.

New Jersey pulled even at 6:11 of the third as Zubrus deflected in Alexei Ponikarovsky’s shot from the right circle.

The loss was another tough outing for the Canadiens, who have lost both games since the All-Star break and are languishing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

“It’s tough to swallow,” Montreal coach Randy Cunneyworth said. “We battled, worked hard. I liked our start. We responded the way the way we wanted. We deserved a better outcome. The first thing is effort. They responded tonight.”

NOTES: Montreal RW Mike Blunden was forced out of the game by an undisclosed lower body injury. … Desharnais played in his 100th game with the Canadiens. … D Bryce Salvador was in the Devils lineup despite a leg injury that made his status questionable. Because of Salvador’s uncertain status, New Jersey had seven defensemen in the lineup. … C Adam Henrique (groin injury), Brad Mills and Cam Janssen were scratched by the Devils. Montreal scratched C Petteri Nokelainen, D Chris Campoli, LW Travis Moen (upper body) and C Ryan White. … P.K. Subban laid out Devils rookie defenseman Adam Larson with a big shoulder check with six minutes remaining in the third. Larson was face down on the ice for over a minute before slowly getting to his skates and being helped to the locker room. DeBoer said he “thought it was a clean hit.” The Devils said the injury was a lower back bruise. … Montreal had won four straight in New Jersey.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)