NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 2nd (All times eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (41-30-7) at New Jersey Devils (36-36-5), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens will try move past an awful end to March when they open the new month by visiting the New Jersey Devils for tonight's clash at Prudential Center.
The Canadiens posted an 8-7-0 mark overall in March, but were outscored by a combined 18-5 margin during an 1-4-0 stretch to end the month.
The skid has dropped Montreal six points behind fifth-seeded Tampa Bay in the East standings. The Habs are just two points ahead of Buffalo and the New York Rangers, who enter today tied for the conference's final two postseason berths.
Montreal is also just five points ahead of ninth-seeded Carolina in the East standings after getting slammed by the Hurricanes this past Wednesday in Raleigh. Jeff Skinner registered two goals and one assist to lead the desperate Hurricanes to a 6-2 victory over the visiting Habs.
Carey Price allowed four goals on 26 shots through two periods before he was replaced by Alex Auld, who made seven saves in relief. Price is expected to be back between the pipes as the starter for tonight's game.
Michael Cammalleri and P.K. Subban both scored power-play goals for Montreal in the loss.
The Canadiens have lost three of their last five on the road and are just 18-19-1 as the guest this season. Including Wednesday's game at Carolina, the Habs are playing four of their last five games of the regular season on the road.
"We need a couple of good road efforts. Tomorrow we get a brand new shot at playing better on the road and all the guys are ready for it," Price told his club's web site on Friday.
New Jersey, meanwhile, has almost been officially reduced to a spoiler role in the East, as either a loss this evening by the Devils or one point by Buffalo tonight against Washington would eliminate the club from postseason contention.
With five games left, the Devils are 10 points in back of the Sabres and New York Rangers for the conference's final playoff spots.
Although the club's playoff hopes are close to being dashed, New Jersey is expected to have star forward Zach Parise back on the ice tonight for the first time since late October. Parise has missed the last 65 games after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on November 2, three days after he left a game against Los Angeles.
The 26-year-old Parise registered three goals and six points in 12 games before the injury. He had 38 goals and 82 points in 81 games for New Jersey last season.
The Devils kept themselves alive in the playoff race with Friday's win over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. Patrik Elias notched his eighth career hat trick to lead New Jersey past the Flyers, 4-2.
Nick Palmieri also tallied and Brian Rolston added three assists for the Devils, who have won two straight tests after dropping their previous three.
Johan Hedberg made 34 stops as New Jersey, which last missed the postseason in 1996. Martin Brodeur is expected to start tonight in net and the NHL's all- time wins leader is 40-16-0 with five ties and a 1.74 goals-against average in 61 career games against the Habs.
Devils defenseman Colin White has missed the last three games with a lower body injury and is questionable for tonight's game.
Tonight's test marks the end of a three-game homestand for the Devils, who are 20-15-3 as the host this season.
New Jersey has taken two of three from the Habs this season and the Devils have won nine of 11 and 18 of the last 23 meetings between the clubs. Montreal has won two straight in Jersey after dropping its previous three trips to the Garden State.
04/02 12:42:53 ET