Devils Win Ugly Against Habs

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Some of you out there may have heard this one before, but I am going to say it anyway. “Winners find ways to win and losers find ways to lose”. I write this because Wednesday night’s victory was hardly a pretty one for Jersey, but it was still a win, and that is all that matters in the long run. The Devils trailed and needed a lucky bounce just to get on the board to tie this one up, but when you are a great team in the NHL you will find a way to win, you will come up clutch when you need to and that is what Devil fans should take from this game above all else. Let’s get into how it all came to be.

The game started off rather slowly with a side of sloppy from both teams. There were turnovers, collisions with fellow teammates, plenty of mishaps that make it difficult for any team to get into a rhythm to start a game. Although both New Jersey and Montreal got off to slow starts, the Habs gave the Devils every opportunity in the world to put this one away in the first period. Montreal committed four first period penalties (two that made for a 5-3 at one point) and they could not seal the deal.

At 7:03 the Canadiens got called for Too Many Men, giving Jersey its first PP of the game, but no goal. At 8:02 Ryan O’Byrne was called for tripping, still no goal from the Devils even when given a five on three. The beat goes on, at 11:53 big man Hal Gil went to the sin bin for holding, nothing showing from the Devils this time either, but the Canadiens had something to say. While trying to get something set up on this PP, Andy Greene passed the puck cross ice on the point to Jamie Langenbrunner, who looked to send it right back to Greene, but Travis Moen intercepted it and took it all the way down ice and put a back-hander through Broduers five-hole (12:23 in the first period). The goal was scored on a tricky shot off of Moen’s stick that seemed to surprise Marty, but the turnover is what caused it. If that wasn’t enough, at 18:08, goalie Carey Price got a delay of game penalty after shooting the puck out of play. With yet another chance for the Devils to get on board before the period ended, they came up empty… yet again.

Not the best period for the Devils, but it could have been worse. It wasn’t like the Canadiens outplayed us, because they played rather poorly themselves, we just weren’t executing and making the most of the opportunities given to us. A positive that can be taken from the piss poor first was Martin Brodeur making solid saves when he needed to, keeping the score within reach. I said in my look a-head piece prior to this game, that if we fell behind, the Devils had the kind of team that is capable of coming back, especially since Montreal does not have a barn burning offense.

The second period saw a familiar theme, power plays. But this time it was a little less lop-sided. Each squad had their own chance to capitalize, but both came up empty. The MVP of this period was Brodeur, as he stopped everything he saw, including some down low pressure from former Devil, Scott Gomez. With the Devils having a hard time getting anything going we needed Marty to stack those pads and keep us in it to give us a shot and would you expect any less of a performance against Montreal from him? The period was headed toward a close and The Rock was a bit restless as they were seeing their Devils with no goals after squandering many an opportunity. Then the fourth line of Ilkka Pikkarainen, Rod Pelley and Dean McAmmond went on a 3 on 2 rush and Pikkarainen just threw the puck on net at Price from the right wing side and Price mishandled it with his glove. It went off his glove, hit the post behind him, fell to the ice and went off the back of his leg and in (16:25 into the second). That was just what New Jersey needed in order to have a chance in this game. When you get weird goals like that, it changes the mentality of a team, letting them think that they are meant to win the game.

The third period would be all about goaltending. Brodeur and Price kept both of their teams in the game with great play. No more then ten seconds into the third Brodeur had Cammalleri and Kostitsyn put two shots his way and he came up big there. Same thing from Price, a few sharp angle shots from Devil players, but he stopped them. What would this game come down to? Clearly with each goalie playing well, the next goal would be the winner. That was exactly how it would be decided and unfortunately when a goalie is playing well, it is usually his defense that does him in on a loss. The Devils scored the game winning goal when Brian Rolston got a cross ice pass in the neutral zone from Vladimir Zharkov, taking the puck into the Montreal zone he got a wrister off on Price, but Elias got behind the defense of Jaraslov Spacek and put the rebound in the net on a back-hander.

This one was an ugly win, but who cares, no one remembers how the games were won, just if they were won. Tonight’s game told me a lot about this team. It showed that they are good enough to give themselves a chance to win even when they are playing bad. When you have a guy like Martin Brodeur in your crease, you always have a chance. The Devils know they played bad, they definitely know they played bad. But they got the win anyway and this will do wonders for their morale, confidence and what have you. Great overall (albeit ugly) win for the Devils to keep pace with Pittsburgh in the Atlantic.

Besides getting a great win tonight, yet another milestone was reached tonight for Martin Brodeur as he tied Patrick Roy’s record for most games played as a goalie at 1,029 games. He will pass that mark on Friday night at home against the Ottawa Senators and also try for the shutout milestone of 104.

THREE STARS
1st Star2nd Star3rd Star
DEVILS
Patrik Elias
GAPTSSOG
1012
DEVILS
Ilkka Pikkarainen
GAPTSSOG
1011
CANADIENS
Travis Moen
GAPTSSOG
1012