MONTREAL – The support players stood out in the Montreal Canadiens’ 7-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night, allowing them to reach the 20-game plateau this season.
In addition to Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, Jake Evans, Joel Armia, Chris Wideman, Christian Dvorak and Kale Clague hit the mark for the Canadian (20-40-11), who bounced back after falling 6-3 in front Ottawa Senators Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. Clague, Wideman and Brendan Gallagher also added two assists each.
Interim head coach Martin St-Louis praised Wideman after the game for his professionalism and tenacity. After all, Wideman had been left out in the previous two games in order to provide some playing time for the organization’s young prospects.
“Large he’s a super good pro. He’s a super good hockey player and a very popular guy in the bedroom. (…) He’s a team guy, and it takes that on all teams: guys who think more about the logo on the front of the jersey than the name on the back. Largethat’s it, ”said St-Louis by videoconference about his 32-year-old veteran.
St-Louis, however, agreed that he did not appreciate the overall performance of his flock. Far from there.
“Do I prefer to win a game 2-1 or 7-4? It depends on the kind of match. You can win a game 2-1 and have a lot of chances to score, and you can win a game 7-4 and haven’t given up many chances, the other team was just more opportunistic than you. It depends. You have to be honest with our performance, and in the second period we just weren’t there,” said St-Louis.
Tomas Tatar, AJ Greer, Ty Smith and Jesper Bratt fought back for the Devils (24-41-6), who suffered a fifth straight loss.
It was the third game between the two teams this season, and the Devils had won the first two. Moreover, it was the first time the Habs won in regulation in New Jersey since January 20, 2017.
Veteran Jake Allen made his fifth straight start in front of the Habs net, stopping a total of 33 shots.
For their part, the Devils sent ex-CH goalkeeper Andrew Hammond into the fray. The “Hamburglar” had a difficult evening and ended the evening with 13 saves. Nico Daws came on as backup early in the third period and stopped six more shots.
The Bleu-blanc-rouge will now travel to Toronto for its Saturday night game against the Maple Leafs.
It should be noted that three changes had been made to the formation of the Canadian for this match. Forward Tyler Pitlick along with defenders Clague and Wideman were in uniform, replacing forward Paul Byron and defenders Justin Barron and Jordan Harris.
Byron and Barron, who scored his first career NHL goal in the final game against the Senators, remained in Montreal, while Harris accompanied the team to New Jersey.
An explosive start
Both teams had an explosive start to the game, as they traded three goals in just 2:36 of the first period.
Suzuki opened the scoring first by beating Hammond with a precise wrist shot at 4:35. Then, Evans doubled his team’s lead with a powerful slap shot into the top corner, above the Devils goaltender’s glove. It was his 10th goal of the campaign.
A victory far from perfect
Ex-Canadian Tatar then narrowed the gap to 2-1 at 7:11, but Caufield capped the visitors’ first-half attacking push by beating Hammond with a precise wrist shot as he was on the breakaway, with 6:16 to go. It was his third goal in as many games, and his 17th overall in 2021-22. Allen then signaled a few times in the middle period to hold the lead at 3-1, including frustrating Janne Kuokkanen on a partial breakaway.
However, as was the case in the first period, the teams exchanged a net each in the space of 1:20. First Greer took advantage of a favorable rebound as he rounded Allen’s net to flicker the red light, then Armia fooled Hammond’s vigilance with a pinpoint shot. It was the Canadian’s fourth goal in 14 shots.
Things didn’t improve much for Hammond early in the third period. Wideman, then Dvorak beat him in the space of 15 seconds at the start of the engagement to chase him out of the match. Daws took over and completed the game.
Afterwards, Smith and Bratt closed the gap to 6-4, but Clague completed the scoring for the Canadian.
From Caufield, to Pitlick… to Suzuki!
Shea Weber? No it’s Jake Evans!
3 goals in 3 minutes… Tomas Tatar!
Like two thieves at a fair!
Finally, a 2nd goal for Greer!
It brews after the goal of Armia
The offensive festival continues
2 Canadiens goals in 15 seconds
A 3rd point for Clague is 7-4!
“Wideman is very popular”
More details to come