NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Montreal made the New Jersey Devils pay for the win the Canadiens let slip away.r
Brian Gionta and Lars Eller scored in the first 1:38, Carey Price made 27 saves and the Canadiens beat the Devils 5-1 on Thursday night.
Tom Pyatt, Scott Gomez and Benoit Pouliot also scored to help Montreal rebound a night after blowing a two-goal, third-period lead in a 4-3 home loss to Edmonton.
“We all knew it wasn’t good enough yesterday,” Eller said. “It was mistakes that are easily fixed. We also quickly forgot about it. We’ve been good a coming back after a loss, and I think we showed that again. We were ready from the start today.”
Unlike the Devils, who were never in the contest.
“They outplayed us in every aspect of the game,” New Jersey coach John MacLean said. “They were prepared to play. We weren’t.”
Jason Arnott scored for the Devils.
New Jersey had seemingly pulled out of its early season funk, winning three of four coming in and four straight at home. This loss was a clearly a step in the wrong direction.
“We were just kind of looking around,” Devils forward Patrik Elias said. “When you play a quick team like that, they get on you. We were flat. That’s the bottom line.”
Gionta needed only 11 seconds to give Montreal the lead, tucking the rebound of Roman Hamrlik’s shot past Johan Hedberg, getting a fifth straight start while Martin Brodeur recovers from a bruised elbow.
Eller quickly followed with a wraparound goal, circling behind the Devils net to slip the puck inside the right post. Hedberg, beaten on two of the three shots he faced, was then replaced by Mike McKenna.
Montreal almost had a third tally in the period when Tomas Plekanec was awarded a penalty shot at 7:27 after being hooked down Devils defenseman Matt Corrente.
Plekanec swung far to his right on the penalty shot before cutting back toward the goal. He snapped off a shot that McKenna deflected with his glove.
Montreal did get the third goal when Pyatt got his first of the season at 2:30 of the second.
The Canadiens added two more in the period for a 5-0 lead.
Gomez, a former Devils star like Gionta, roofed a rebound over McKenna for a power-play goal at 2:30. Pouliot padded the advantage at 9:57.
Price was sharp late in the period as both Hamrlik and Eller were whistled for tripping penalties at 17:06, giving the Devils a 5-on-3 power play for a full 2 minutes. New Jersey peppered the net with shots with Elias getting off two from close range. Price held firm and the Canadiens skated off with a commanding lead as the Prudential Center crowd booed the Devils at the end of the period.
“We did an excellent job of killing that,” Price said. “We tried to keep them to the outside. Kudos to our penalty killers. They’ve been good all year.”
In the third, Price lost the shutout bid when Arnott, bedridden earlier in the week with food poisoning, deflected in a feed from Elias at 8:18.
NOTES: The Devils, hit by injuries, are finally starting to get healthy. Captain Jamie Langenbrunner returned after missing eight games with a neck injury. Corrente was back after missing two games because of a shoulder injury. … It was the first time the Gionta brothers squared off. Brian Gionta is Montreal’s captain. Stephen Gionta made his NHL debut for the Devils on Nov. 5. … The game was the second of four between the teams this season. New Jersey won 3-0 at Montreal on Oct. 21.
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