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NHL Game Summary - Montreal at New Jersey

(Thursday, January 5th)

Final Score: New Jersey 5, Montreal 4

East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - Patrik Elias had two goals and a pair of assists in just his second game back on the ice this season, as the New Jersey Devils held off the Montreal Canadiens, 5-4, at Continental Airlines Arena.

Elias, whose goals were his first of the campaign, returned to the ice for the first time this season on Tuesday in the Devils' 3-0 win over Florida. He recorded an assist in that game, which was his first since contacting Hepatitis A last March while playing in Russia.

Scott Gomez and Brian Rafalski had a goal and two assists each for New Jersey, which recorded back-to-back wins for the first time since winning consecutive contests on November 25 and 29. Martin Brodeur added 16 saves for the Devils, who ended 2-1 on a three-game homestand.

Chris Higgins had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who have dropped four in a row and eight of 10.

The two teams got off to a quick start. Montreal's Saku Koivu scored just 11 seconds into the contest, but Elias answered 52 seconds later with his first goal of the season.

The Devils then went ahead for good with 5:45 remaining in the opening period when Victor Kozlov took a pass from Gomez and from between the two circles wristed a shot past Montreal netminder Jose Theodore.

Just 1:40 later, Gomez made it 3-1 when he sent home a feed from Elias and Rafalski when on the power play.

Higgins got a goal for the Canadiens with 2:19 left in the first period, sending Montreal into the intermission down just one goal.

In the second, Elias extended the Devils' lead back to two goals 7:44 in when he received a pass from Gomez at the top of the left circle, skated between the two circles and wristed home a shot low to the glove side of Theodore.

Elias then recorded his fourth point of the night on the goal that turned out to be the game-winner. At the 10:05 mark of the second he dropped a pass to Rafalski, who beat Theodore for a 5-2 cushion.

"When you come back for that second game, usually that you set in the back of your mind that maybe it's not that easy," said Gomez of Elias. "But he was the old Patty again."

Montreal rallied for a pair of third-period goals, but couldn't get the equalizer.

Michael Ryder recorded his 18th goal of the season 4:05 into the stanza to make if 5-3. Then, 1:40 later, Andrei Kastsitsyn grabbed the puck from the left corner, skated behind the net and his wrap-around shot from the right of the goal went across the crease, hit the far post and bounced in.

The Canadiens had a chance in the final minute after pulling Theodore for the 6-on-5 advantage, but with 22 seconds left Brodeur smothered a Ryder backhanded attempt right in front of the net. Later, with just 12 seconds left, a scrum in front of Brodeur didn't result in a clean shot on goal and the Devils came away victorious.

Earlier, Elias missed a chance at a hat-trick when his wrister with 42 ticks left went wide of the empty net.

Theodore ended with 22 saves.

"We get an early goal and we think we're on the right track," said Montreal head coach Claude Julien. "Then we give up two quick ones. Our second period was definitely the period that killed us."

Game Notes

New Jersey has won both meetings against the Canadiens this season...The Devils improved to 12-7-3 at home this season...Montreal fell to 7-9-4 on the road...This was the Devils' first game since releasing Alexander Mogilny on Wednesday...New Jersey ended 1-for-1 on the power play...Montreal went 0-for-1 with the man advantage.

01/05 23:09:03 ET

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