Game 49: Habs roar back to finally beat Devils

Canadiens’ Bryan Smolinski celebrates his first goal of the night in front of New Jersey’s John Madden.
Ray Stubblebine, Reuters

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Quick: find a bottle large enough to preserve tonight’s third period in Newark, N.J., and keep it sealed until March 1, the next time the Canadiens take on the New Jersey Devils.

Montreal scored three unanswered third-period goals tonight, outshooting their hosts 20-3 in the final frame, and in the process snapped a gruesome streak of futility.

Christopher Higgins, on the power play, and Saku Koivu and Bryan Smolinski hit the mesh behind normally airtight New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur during tonight’s final 20 minutes, giving the Canadiens a 4-3 victory and ending a nine-game losing streak against the Devils.

This devilish domination had reached ridiculous heights, and for a time tonight it seemed like the Canadiens were going to carry another loss to New Jersey into this weekend’s all-star break. But a terrific third period turned the team’s fortunes, and Montreal now heads into a few days off with a very welcome one-game winning streak against the Devils.

The Canadiens outshot the Devils 32-13.

The first period sounded a little like the first tee at your local golf course, with the ping! of Devils pucks drilling the goal posts behind Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet.

Patrick Elias had the first, his power-play shot at 12:18 rattling in behind Huet off the post, the steel behind the crossbar and quickly back out. But there was no doubt about the goal, and Montreal’s Sergei Kostitsyn can see it on the highlights, having been in the penalty box for tripping when Elias scored.

If the Canadiens, now 26-15-8, were hoping to solve Brodeur, getting three shots on goal the first period wasn’t the way to do it. New Jersey, 28-18-3, had six on Huet.

The Canadiens goalie had no chance at all on Elias’s second of the night, 3:24 into the second on badly broken defensive coverage.

Brodeur’s shutout was broken at 14:12 by Smolinski, on a line-change trio with Andrei Kostitsyn and Alex Kovalev. Smolinski got in behind the Devils defenceman Karel Rachunek and took a crisp pass from the corner off the stick of Kostitsyn, the spadework done by Kovalev to keep the puck in the New Jersey end, to bury his fourth goal of the season.

But any momentum that might have given the Canadiens evaporated when Montreal went two men down, Plekanec and Steve Bégin off for slashing and cross-checking. Seven seconds after Bégin was sent off, Devils captain Jamie Lagenbrunner stepped in and teed off, rifling one from 40 feet past a screened Huet at 17:02.

Montreal’s 10-4 edge in shots didn’t count for a whole lot.

But Smolinski, the sudden sniper, got the Canadiens close again 29 seconds into the third period, converting the rebound of an Andrei Markov shot past Brodeur.

Then, with Montreal completely in control of the third period, Koivu swatted down a Mike Komisarek shot from the blue line, his stick within centimetres of being illegally high. But a review of the play let the goal stand at 11:54, giving Koivu his ninth of the season and tying the game at 3-3.

And finally, Higgins bagged Montreal’s third unanswered goal of the period, his 16th, banging home the puck from a scramble at 14:31, set up by Koivu and defenceman Roman Hamrlik.

The Devils came into the night’s action having beaten Montreal nine straight dating to March 20, 2004. The Canadiens, who at least earned a single point with one overtime loss, were outscored 33-16 during that span.

Brodeur had started every game during the streak, posting a 1.76 goals-against average and two shutouts. He had been nearly perfect in his last five starts against the Canadiens, giving up four goals in over 304 minutes for a 0.79 goals-against average.

In 51 games against his hometown team before tonight’s game, the three-time Vezina Trophy winner was 34-12-0 with five ties, a 1.74 GAA and eight shutouts.

Finally, the Canadiens have solved Brodeur. And surely not one game too soon.


Christopher Higgins scores the winning goal on Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.
Andy Marlin, NHLI via Getty Images


  1. ebk says:

    try Blair Stoughton…..
    50 goals-5 Assist for the Hartford Whalers
    I believe

  2. Shiloh says:

    And I’m convinced that he’ll be out of hockey within three years. He lacks skill and only has produced when he’s put on a top line. He should be in Hamilton learning the ropes – but I guess I’ve written that a few dozen times. I’m not going to comment anymore on LaSlowesse. I hope he proves me wrong.

  3. von says:

    The difference between Gui and the “good company,” is that they can justify it because they score a lot more goals…

    You guys are hilarious.

  4. habsguy says:

    cautiousoptimist …LOL..I only asked if anyone ever used it…nothing more, nothing less !!!

  5. JF says:

    Also the games against the Rangers. We only beat them once last year and even though they’re below us in the standings, they’re a really tough team.

  6. JF says:

    Jacques Demers, whose opinion I respect, is convinced that Gui is going to develop into a really good player and a goal-scorer. Don’t forget how young he still is. Look how long it’s taken Andrei Kostitsyn. He’s 23 now and is just finding his stride this season.

  7. JF says:

    You’re doing great, Ian. There’s a huge difference from when you started posting. Anyone who needs something to motivate them should just look at you.

  8. krob1000 says:

    Maurice Richard scored more goals than assists in 14 of his 18 seasons.

  9. JF says:

    It might not be hard, but we’ve found it impossible for a long time.

  10. habsguy says:

    Geez Von, thats some pretty heady company..I knew he was pretty good and thought he was coming along nicely..But WOW he’s better than I thought !!!!

  11. von says:

    It’s not “trying to show Guilliame” as a bum. It simply shows that according to their calculations, he’s the #2 puck hog in the league.

    The difference between Gui and the “good company,” is that they can justify it because they score a lot more goals.

  12. HAB-PROFESSOR says:

    We can’t because a large part of taxes are used just to pay the interest on DEBT!…government debt!

    Debt is good for the economy, its ‘new money’, its the interest changes that spell ruin, but on an individual level you want your debt to be at a minimum, or approaching zero, not the other way around.

    (then when the market “panic tanked” like it did on Monday, you can BUY BIG.)

    thats how you become a millionaire…or by playing for Les Canadiens!

    1. Kovalev, about being passed over for the All Star team said, “The Canadiens are my all star team”
    2. The BELL CENTRE should be rebuilt to sit 80,000 fans
    3. Your not a Hab fan till you watch & UNDERSTAND “The Rocket”

  13. RS says:

    I like the kid, but I’m not sure I’d put Lats in the same category as Ovechkin.

    And why don’t we just call this the Wendel Clark syndrome rather than some ill-suited baseball comparison? Anyone else out there remember Ron Sedlbauer?

  14. Scotty90 says:

    The guys have to pick-up where they left off vs. the Bs’. According to the TEAM 990 this morning, the last 2 games that Habs won against the Devils was by shut-out… one by Roy and one by Theodore.Huet said he was motivated for tonights game…. I feel he will give it his all and I hope that the whole team give him their total support and to the best of their ability. I don’t think they’ll score a bunch but all they need is one more than the bad guys. If we have the 4 lines on the attack shift after shift, bombard the hell out of Brodeur, and our D pinches in when the opportunity is there,…. our chances of breaking the spell tonight are excellent.

    Enjoy the game tonight HIO folk!

  15. mrstewart61 says:

    3-2 Habs

  16. Bill H says:

    The Habs should easily win. All they have to do is hold New Jersey to one goal, and score at least 2 goals themselves. What’s so hard about that?

  17. likehoy says:

    well our record doesn’t say otherwise

  18. Bill H says:

    The whole concept is silly. Cy Young has an award named after him because he dominated the game as a pitcher. THN article compares W-L record of a pitcher with G-A record of a hockey player. W-L record is a legitimate way of measuring a pitcher’s performance. The more wins and few losses the better. This is not the case with G-A. The more of one and fewer of the other does not improve the players performance. For a hockey player, more of both is desirable. So I fail to see what the point of the stat is. All it is saying is that the player is better at putting the puck in the net than setting up someone else to do it. As long as a team has players (i.e. Koivu) to set up as well as players who can score, Latendresse/Kovalev, then the 2 complement each other. To criticize a player for scoring to many goals is just silly.

  19. krob1000 says:

    I saw that last night too and thought it was a pretty stupid thing to write.

  20. showey47 says:

    when glen murray played for the sudbury wolves he was an aboslute terrible skater, the guy looked like he was skating on his ankles. He turned out to have a pretty good career as a nhl goal scorer and his skating improved big time like gui’s will.

  21. Shobud says:

    Its the Toronto Sports Network

  22. Sakus Evil Twin says:

    Here we go…

    Prediction? Habs come out skating their buns off, and slowly but surely the big, wet blanket that is the New Jersey Devils stifles that initial 8 minute onslaught. Marty Brodeur’s work will be done after that.

    The remaining 52 minutes are a series of groans and frustration.

    Of course, I only post this to be proved wrong.

    Go Habs!

    1-0 after the shootout!!

    Gui scores from behind the net.

  23. CHsam says:

    Guess we’ll have to prove em wrong

  24. RH says:

    Read that last night too. Thought it was kind of weird, with the baseball player comparison and all.

  25. showey47 says:

    “Forty-eight hours after their ninth straight victory over the Boston Bruins, the Montreal Canadiens WILL become the victims again when they take on the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.” This is directly from tsn as their headline for the devils-habs game tonight, god i hate tsn

  26. RH says:

    No problem. The Habs aren’t in bad shape at all.

  27. RH says:

    Too bad we can’t release ouselves from taxes, and become free.

  28. showey47 says:

    wins and losses to goals and assists

  29. HotColdHabs says:

    I find that an interesting stat – not sure of its value. I am not really a big Lats fan, but he has been an asset to the team at various times. This is a guy who has size and strength yet does not use them to his advantage. He also has the ability to put pucks in the net, but also has yet to prove himself as a bonafide goal scorer.

    What made me really curious is the reference to “Cy Young” in your post, which a baseball pitcher award!

    enduring the high’s & lows of being a Habs fan

  30. Ian G Cobb says:

    Including spelled !!!

  31. leafs67_andcounting says:

    At least after tonight we’ll only see the Devils twice more this season.

  32. Ed says:

    Yes, you have mentioned it a total of at least 1000 times, I think.

  33. Ian G Cobb says:

    Thank’s J.T.—Just having a great time on here, but brilliant is a big word for me. Watch out, it might go to my head.

    Never spelt it before, thanks, i try to learn a new one each day.

  34. ebk says:

    it sure does, not bad for an AHL 3rd liner.

  35. ebk says:

    read the whole thing, again nice post.

    if you are trying to show Guilliame is a bum, what you posted isn’t doing it.
    That’s pretty good company to be in, at least in my books.

    Have a nice day.

  36. Chuck says:



    “All bow down before the Komisaurus Rex!”

  37. likehoy says:

    it’s nice to lie doesn’t it.

  38. showey47 says:

    gui would probably be first if he could score on those easy tap in’s into an open net. But seriously its not like he has been on a line with players who are known to score. Even when he was playing with saku and sergie, they are both passers first. I do like the fact that 10 of his goals are at even strength, i believe that ranks him first on the team.

  39. Chuck says:

    You’re the one with all of the time on your hands. Feel free to do the research if you feel that it’s really topic-worthy.

    “All bow down before the Komisaurus Rex!”

  40. von says:

    Uh, sure? Maybe if you forget to read the first 6 lines… But I guess when you selectively read, thats the end result.

  41. wd40 says:

    that post reads like a Dr. Bronner’s soap label.

  42. ebk says:

    Nice post.

    Bodes well for Guilliame because all the players on this list are pretty darn good hockey players. Thanks for pointing this out to us.

  43. Ian G Cobb says:

    The test tonight and something to watch for is the time of possession. Jersey does not give up possession at either end very often without a lot of pressure. Where as we give it up a little more with our dump outs, back passing and faceoffs.

    I hope Begin plays tonight, and with a solid team effort we can take em !

  44. von says:

    Check this out: NHL’s Top 10 Puck Hogs according to The Hockey News. Look who made the top 10, haha. Top 10: Contenders for the Cy Young

    We countdown the players who are prone to put the puck in the net themselves, rather than help out a teammate.

    Here are the 10 leaders (minimum 10 goals) so far this season. Special thanks goes to Nic Chabot of Fantasy Sports Services for crunching the past and present Cy Young numbers. (Statistics are goals and assists. Ranking is based on the percentage of goals to points rather than the difference between goals and assists.)

    10. Patrick Sharp, Chicago (22-14).

    9. Alexander Ovechkin, Washington (38-24).

    8. Dustin Brown, Los Angeles (24-15).

    7. Bill Guerin, N.Y. Islanders (18-10).

    6. Niklas Hagman, Dallas (18-10).

    5. Brad Boyes, St. Louis (27-13).

    4. Chuck Kobasew, Boston (17-8).

    3. David Booth, Florida (14-6).

    2. Guillaume Latendresse, Montreal (12-5).

    1. Marek Svatos, Colorado (20-3).

  45. Ice Man says:

    I’ll make a TOAST to dat………

  46. HAB-PROFESSOR says:

    Let rattlers rattle, thats what they do and there is NOTHING wrong with that. Everyone is entitled to voice their opinion….and if its over and over again, so be it. The rattler has built a reputation.

    At least we know where he stands…read or move on, your choice.

    do not try to control people….leave that to our government and the banks, they do a fine job…most of us are condemned slaves… advice, release yourselves from debt and become FREE.

    enough of that….now the game:

    BRODEUR must be Beaten!…his time has come, his JINX on us has to be broken and the only thing that can break this traitor to his people is the emergence of the ‘new’ Hab Dynasty!….

    Tonight we will witness history, it is the end for Brodeur and his dominance of the Habs.

    and its been a long time coming.

    1. Kovalev, about being passed over for the All Star team said, “The Canadiens are my all star team”
    2. The BELL CENTRE should be rebuilt to sit 80,000 fans
    3. Your not a Hab fan till you watch & UNDERSTAND “The Rocket”

  47. showey47 says:

    well then you obviously took the time to check out how many times it happens to montreal or you just made it up because you want to rattle some cages. Then go check how many times it happens to the rest of the teams in the league and come back with actual stats and proof, until then give it a rest already. For all u know it could be the least amount of times, it could be average or it could be the most amount than any other team in the league.

  48. wd40 says:

    Cheers to that!

  49. J.T. says:

    Ian…I think this is the most brilliant post you have ever made. I love it!

  50. HABZ 24 says:

    that just means the habs are DO and tonights the night!!

  51. Ian G Cobb says:

    The fact is we all like to hug and we all like to have a dump. I feel better with each.

    But i choose to share with others my hugs. Try it you might like it !!

  52. wd40 says:

    It’s not just getting to Brodeur early (and often), the D is going to have to blanket Parise. He killed us last time.. 3 goals and 1 assist (in a 4-0 win) last time he played. Huet is 0-6. Definately a real test for us tonight.


  53. Ian G Cobb says:

    RH—- Thanks for below.


  54. Jay in PA says:

    This will be an interesting night for scoreboard-watching. While we play the Devils, the Flyers and Pens will play each other in what promises to be a nasty grudge match. Overall, two points separate Philly (in sixth) from New Jersey (in third). A Montreal win and a Pittsburgh loss (both in regulation) would vault us into second place in the conference based on total points. Man, it’s tight this year!

    I think this game will be a good litmus test for our team. We’ve gradually raised our performance this season so that we’re beating the teams we should beat–Toronto, Tampa, and so forth. We’re also beating some genuinely good teams–Philadelphia, Boston, the Islanders. But to be contenders, we’ve got to beat the elite teams and the teams that usually beat us. Tonight’s game and the Ottawa games in two weeks will show whether we’ve merely made progress or are genuinely up there among the best.

  55. Shobud says:

    I don’t know what cagerattler has got on his mind. So big deal. There are back to back games for everyteam. The shape that these guys are in and the money they get paid they should be able to play five nights a week like in some other sports. I know when I eas young I often played seven nights a week. I will grant you it was not NHL type of hockey but it was still very good In the old days they had to do it and travel by train and carry their own equipment, and some of the stars played two or three min shifts without getting off. If there is an advantage it is to the team playing the second game. there are loose and ready

  56. J.T. says:

    I love interesting stats and I’m fully aware that there are negatives…no team that’s been down as long as the Habs have been turn into contenders overnight. But, I think I speak for many of those you view as being overly Pollyannaish when I say that we’ve been gloomy and negative for the last fifteen years, so when we see so much about which we can be positive, it’s a refreshing and welcome change of mentality. It doesn’t mean we’re blind to the acne…but we see the pleasant face underneath it as well and choose to focus on that, as the acne will go away at some point.

  57. Will Longlade says:

    Should be a great tilt tonight. The Habs are poised to slay one of their demons and the timing couldn’t be better.

  58. Ice Man says:

    PRICE won last night. 3-2 in a shoot out. He faced 16 shots in regulation play. He stopped 5 of 6 shots in the shoot out.


  59. NLhabsfan says:

    The only person standing before a Habs win is Brodeur.That guys is always hot against us.Over the years he has stood on his head and plays like a demon.If the Devils get a lead at any time in this game we are toast because they protest a lead better than anyone in the league.They slow the play down and allow Brodeur to close the door.We have a tough game tonight.I hope we win, but their trap has caused us fits in the past.

  60. Chuck says:


    Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got to go. My next model is here for her nude photospread. Man, working sucks!

    “All bow down before the Komisaurus Rex!”

  61. WindsorHab-10 says:

    Brodeur is a great goalie but his dominance over Montreal has more to do with our mental approach to these games than Brodeur’s greatness. I still think we have a better team than the Devils and would like to see us create some traffic in front of Brodeur by always parking someone there as well as play a solid 60 minute game. We need to wipe the arrogance off his face and go into the all-star break with a much needed victory over the Devils. GO HABS GO!!!!!!!!

  62. coutNY says:

    In the spirit of Jack Nicholson; “Every Blog needs an enema!” the Joker, Battman 1989

  63. Chuck says:

    The laffs, for example, also have four more road trips than the Habs this season. Considering that each team plays an equal number of road games, that translates into a greater hardship with longer road trips for the Habs. Is that fair?

    My point is that spin doctors can put whatever angle they want on stats. In the grand scheme of things, each team plays the same number of home and road games over an equal-length schedule. It all evens out in the wash, which makes a lot of these petty, nitpicking arguments irrelevant.

    If there is an argument to be made for some teams having easier schedules than others, then Cagerattler should consider that for the three teams in the New York area, most of their road trips consist of locking their apartment doors and taking a cross-town bus.


    “All bow down before the Komisaurus Rex!”

  64. cautiousoptimist says:

    With the skill on this team and the way they’ve been playing, it’s theirs to lose. And with the Devils 28th in the league in goals per game, and 26th on the PP, we won’t have to get many past Brodeur to walk away with a win. Crash that net!!!

  65. mjames says:

    I expect the team to show up tonight and play with the same confidence they had against Boston. Actually I am not looking for them to STEAL one, I am looking for them to TAKE one. That would make a nice statement and be great for our confidence.


  66. cautiousoptimist says:

    Only on the very rare occasions when someone is just being blatantly insulting. Frankly, there are a few of those posts right here – come on guys, if a post gets to you that much, just ignore it, or better yet post an intelligent response instead of kindergarten-style attacks…. I’m sure those of us with small children have enough of this my-dad-can-beat-up-your-dad stuff to deal with at home….

  67. JF says:

    We ourselves played Buffalo in back-to-back Friday and Saturday games in November. We lost both. I believe we have a back-to-back contest with Philadelphia in February. Haven’t checked other teams but I think it’s not uncommon.

  68. cautiousoptimist says:

    Speaking of which, I caught part of the Leafs-Caps game last night, and man, Ovechkin is scarier than ever. Big, strong, fast, shooting and out on almost every line change… His passing wasn’t too impressive, but wow…

    It was also nice to see the Leafs get dominated everywhere but the scoreboard in the 1st and 2nd, even if they did end up winning…

  69. cautiousoptimist says:

    To be fair, Cagerattler does have a point – I’ve always thought it was a little silly to force teams to play two games in two nights against well-rested teams. With the tight, tight standings this last couple of years, the four or five bonus points that result could conceivably keep someone out of the playoffs.

    Cagerattler, If you stuck to making valid points – positive or otherwise – instead of rattling people’s cages, you wouldn’t get so many negative replies. 🙂

  70. 24 Cups says:

    Cagerattler – Interesting that you would mention the Tor-Wash situation. Montreal plays Washington under the exact same circumstance right after the All Star break. “No damn excuses here for either team if they lose!”

    The Original 24 Cups

  71. habsguy says:

    has anyone ever used the “flag as offensive” option ??

  72. coutNY says:

    Yeah, Definately… Definately… Montreal has an easy schedule… Definately… Definately… Wapner at 7:00… Kmart sucks… Hot water burn Baby… Go back to counting tooth picks and memorizing phone books, we’ve heard you state these mind blowing facts before… over and over and over…

  73. mjames says:

    Your point or conclusion.


  74. krob1000 says:

    We’ll leave that to you to investigate.

  75. krob1000 says:

    All of us discuss negatives that are pertinent but obviously noone thinks you are onto anything here so try and find a new negative (one that our team has some degree of control about …preferrably on the ice) and we will welcome you with open arms. The horse has been dead for days and it is not a topic that can evolve so please stop. Tomorrow the schedule will still be the same as it is a month from now so unless you really intend to say the samt thing over and over please find something new. We love debates on here and you are right about one thing in that negatives need to be addressed and I feel they are.

    TradeRyder is one of my favourites posters on here and I have weekly debates with him over his name and his take on Ryder although I strongly disagree with him. At least Ryders performance fluctuates and the debate can evolve….your topic is stale. We accept your point although you failed to provide any information regarding other teams schedules or the Habs schedule in years past where we just missed the playoffs. Please find a new negative that is discussion worthy. I will note you haven’t used any profanity or really done anything bad on here. The repetive nature of what we have all dismissed as a not worthy of further discussion topic is not winning you any friends and is upsetting several people. Find new negatives…that matter…. and we will gladly debate or drop the r from your name and call yourself Cagerattle cause we have only ever heard one sort of point from you.

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