Though the Devils have lost four in a row on the road overall, they’ll try for a fourth consecutive win at Montreal on Saturday night.
New Jersey (43-25-5) missed a chance to clinch a postseason spot by losing 4-3 in a shootout at home to the New York Rangers on Thursday. A win in that game coupled with Atlanta’s overtime loss to Toronto on Thursday would have secured a playoff spot for the Devils, who can still clinch with two games weekend.
Tied with Pittsburgh for the Atlantic Division lead, New Jersey is likely to finish between second and fourth in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s always better (to clinch as soon as possible) because every team that clinches a playoff spot, they get a weight off their back,” coach Jacques Lemaire told the Devils’ official Web site. “Then they can start to focus on getting ready for the playoffs.”
The Devils will play at Philadelphia on Sunday, but one team they need to focus on Saturday, and possibly in next month’s first round, is Montreal (37-30-8). The Canadiens are sixth in the East and well aware this contest could be a potential playoff preview.
“I’ve learned over the years that any time you play the Devils, you have to really look at them and be ready,” coach Jacques Martin told the Canadiens’ official Web site. “They’re the kind of team that will bring out the best in you. We’ve had some good games against them this year and (Saturday) will be a good test for our team.”
New Jersey is 2-1-0 versus Montreal this season, but the Canadiens snapped a six-game losing streak to the Devils with a 3-1 win Jan. 22. However, the Devils have won three in a row and seven of nine at Montreal.
A visit to the Bell Centre could prove beneficial for the Devils, who are mired in a 2-11-2 road stretch. New Jersey has six goals and is 1 for 13 on the power play during a four-game road skid.
The Devils went 0 for 3 with the man advantage while losing for the third time in four games Thursday. Patrik Elias(notes) had a goal with an assist and Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) scored in his second straight game as New Jersey failed to hold three one-goal leads.
A Montreal native, Brodeur has been tough against the Canadiens. The all-time wins leader and future Hall of Famer is 37-16-0 with five ties and a 1.78 goals-against average versus his hometown team.
Elias has a goal with four assists in his last two games, and three goals in four against the Canadiens.
Brian Gionta(notes) has one assist in two games against his former team this season, but scored twice in the Canadiens’ 4-1 home win over Florida on Thursday. It was his second two-goal game in four contests.