Tomas Kaberle, acquired in a trade with Carolina on Friday, had two assists in his debut with Montreal, leading the Canadiens to a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
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The Canadiens snapped a two-game losing streak, while the Devils fell for the sixth time in their last eight games. It was only Montreal’s second win in the last eight games.
Kaberle, acquired Friday in a trade with the Hurricanes for fellow struggling defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, assisted on Max Pacioretty’s power-play goal in the second period and took the initial shot on Erik Cole’s third period goal. Cole also had an assist on Pacioretty’s goal.
Devils forward Nick Palmieri, who was sent down to Albany (AHL) Nov. 24, only to be recalled last week, scored his first goal since Nov. 15 in the third period.
Montreal goalkeeper Carey Price stopped 28 of 29 shots for his 11th win of the season, including a stop of a penalty shot on Zach Parise with just 47 seconds left.
The Devils were the early aggressors, controlling the early action, firing 13 shots on goal in the first period, including four during one flurry. Bryce Salvador had the best scoring chance of the period, but Price made a solid kick save on Salvador’s slap shot midway through the scoreless first period.
Late in the first period, the Devils killed off a brief 5-on-3 penalty and almost scored on it, when Dainius Zubrus fired a low shot that Price stopped with his pads.
But the Canadiens capitalized on a power play opportunity in the opening minutes of the second period. Kaberle carried the puck into the Devils’ zone and left a drop pass for Cole, who made a one-time pass to Pacioretty.
Pacioretty unleashed a high wrist shot that Devils’ goalkeeper Martin Brodeur had no chance to stop, giving Montreal a 1-0 lead. It was Pacioretty’s 11th goal of the season. It was the second straight game that the Devils surrendered a power play goal after going the first 10 home games of the season and 40 power play chances without allowing one.
The Canadiens then pushed the lead to 2-0 at 5:27 of the third period, when defenseman Kaberle made another fine offensive play, firing a slap shot that Brodeur stopped. But Mathieu Darche secured the rebound, pushed it forward with a backhand and Cole alertly knocked it past Brodeur for his 10th goal of the season.
After being stymied for most of the afternoon by Price, the Devils finally got on the board with five minutes left, when Palmieri, who had been struggling early on, earning the demotion to the minors, lifted the puck over Price after receiving a pass from Petr Sykora. Mattias Tedenby was also credited with an assist on Palimeri’s fourth goal of the season.
The Canadiens survived a late scare, when Raphael Diaz was whistled for hooking with 2:08 left, giving the Devils a power play opportunity. With 47 seconds left, the Devils were awarded a penalty shot when Josh Gorges covered the puck with his hands in the crease, but Price stonewalled Parise’s attempt with a right pad save.
NOTES: Devils fans were hoping for a homecoming of sorts for former Stanley Cup stars Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta, but both former Devils were scratched. Gomez has only seen action in 13 games without a goal, but Gionta has been productive with Montreal, scoring eight goals and collecting seven assists in 29 games. It was the first game Gionta missed in 153 straight games, dating back to Dec. 26, 2009. Gomez was out for the seventh straight game with a lower body injury. Gionta left the Canadiens’ loss to Vancouver Thursday with a lower body injury. … Devils C Travis Zajac (Achilles’ tendon surgery) continues to skate and will travel with the team to Florida. . Devils D Anton Volchenkov was a scratch due to a hand injury, although X-rays showed Friday that Volchenkov’s hand was not broken