NEWARK, N.J. â€” The toughest thing Montreal Canadiens goalie Al Montoya had to do against the New Jersey Devils was stay awake.
The Canadiens limited the Devils to a season-low 17 shots, and Shea Weber and Max Pacioretty each scored a power-play goal during a major penalty early in the third period of Montreal’s 3-1 victory Friday night.
“I’d take this any night,” Montoya said after the Canadiens snapped a two-game skid. “Your team is playing fantastic in front of you. Halfway through the game it’s 1-1 and all I’m really focused on is making that next save. These guys did a phenomenal job and I just wanted to make that next save, and the power play was terrific. The guys were mainly terrific all night.”
Alex Galchenyuk added a goal and two assists, and Alexander Radulov had three assists as Montreal ended the Devils’ three-game winning streak.
The difference in this one was the power play. The Canadiens were 3 for 7 with the extra man and they converted twice with Devils defenceman Karl Stollery in the box for a boarding major.
The call was iffy. Stollery hit Canadiens defenceman Nathan Beaulieu in the corner in the Devils end, but the question was whether it was a major or minor penalty.
“It happened quick,” Stollery said. “The guy is coming in and I am going in to finish the play and he turns up. I probably would like to let up a little bit more if it happened again. It’s one of those things that happens quick.”
Devils coach John Hynes screamed at the officials.
“All I got was they felt it was a dangerous hit,” Hynes said. “At that point they are not going to explain it too much. They were defensive. They made the call. It is what it is. At that point we have to try to find a way to kill it better than we did.”
The first two minutes of the major were played 4-on-4, but the Canadiens capitalized after that.
Weber scored his 11th of the season on a drive from the blue line at 3:01 that was set up by Radulov. Pacioretty got his 21st at 4:23 with a shot that deflected off the skate of Devils forward Adam Henrique.
“It was huge,” Weber said. “Obviously, special teams mean so much coming down the stretch and heading into playoffs, so trying to get some chemistry going and help the team win games, it’s obviously a big thing.”
Rookie defenceman Steven Santini gave the Devils an early 1-0 lead, but the Canadiens dominated after that, firing 26 shots at Keith Kinkaid.
Montoya had nothing to do for long stretches. New Jersey was held without a shot for more than 12 minutes after Santini scored, and it needed 13 minutes to get one in the second period.
Santini put New Jersey ahead when he flipped a shot from just inside the blue line that floated into the top corner of the net.
Galchenyuk tied the game 74 seconds later with a shot from the left circle with Devils forward Miles Wood in the penalty box for slashing. The tally came 28 seconds after the penalty and on Montreal’s first shot with the man advantage.
NOTES: After playing the previous four games, Canadiens G Carey Price got the night off. He is scheduled to be in net against the Sabres on Saturday night. … G Cory Schneider was ill Thursday and did not practice, so Hynes started Kinkaid. … Phillip Danault, playing in his 100th NHL game, was moved to centre on the Canadiens’ top line with Pacioretty and Radulov. … Galchenyuk, who just returned from a knee injury, was dropped to the third line but skated on the first-line power-play unit and made the most of it. … The Devils’ previous low for shots in a game this season was 18.
Canadiens: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.
Devils: At the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night.
Tom Canavan, The Associated Press