NEWARK, N.J. (AP)Kale Clague had a goal and two assists, Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki each had a goal and an assist as a part of a three-goal first period and the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 7-4 on Thursday night.
Christian Dvorak had a goal and two assists, and Chris Wideman, Joel Armia and Jake Evans also scored for the Canadiens. Jake Allen stopped 33 shots to help Montreal win for the second time in three games.
”He was great again,” Evans said about Allen. ”I think we had a pretty good start to the game, and then I think we got a little comfortable and were making some not-smart plays, and he held us in there and kept the lead for us.”
Jesper Bratt, Ty Smith, Tomas Tatar and AJ Greer scored for New Jersey. Andrew Hammond allowed six goals on 19 shots before he was pulled early in the third period. The Devils dropped their fifth straight game, and 10th in their past 12, going 0-3-1 on their four-game homestand.
”We have to be better,” Tatar said. ”We have to correct a lot of easy stuff that is not hard to do, and those kind of little things are taking over a game outcome, and they cost us today.”
Montreal built a 3-1 first-period advantage, then relied heavily on Allen the rest of the way. The goalie made 14 saves in the second period and 18 during a two-period span of 18:44 where New Jersey outshot Montreal 19-2.
”He played awesome tonight,” Wideman said of Allen. ”He kept us in the game in the second, and thankfully we were able to reward him with a win. He deserved it.”
Greer cut Montreal’s lead to 3-2 with five minutes left in the second period with his first goal in his seventh career game with the Devils. Armia restored Montreal’s two-goal advantage 1:20 later.
Wideman and Dvorak scored goals 15 seconds apart early in the third period to chase Hammond. He fell to 0-1-1 in a pair of starts since joining the Devils in a trade with the Canadiens on March 21.
Smith and Bratt each scored to get New Jersey within 6-4, but Clague’s goal at 13:17 stymied any threat of a comeback.
”You feel like you’re pushing and some big error happens, and it’s in the net,” Tatar said. ”Then you try to build up again, you get chances and you keep pushing and there’s another puck in the net.”
Suzuki and Evans put Montreal ahead with first-period goals 2:06 apart. Suzuki fielded a pass from linemate Rem Pitlick and beat Hammond over the glove, giving the Canadiens a 1-0 lead.
”I kind of fanned on it and probably fooled him a bit,” Suzuki said of his shot. ”We got kind of lucky that they were going in, and we didn’t really play that well to deserve those, but we’ll take those all the time.”
Evans made it 2-0 after defenseman Corey Schueneman won a board battle then fed Montreal’s second-line center at the point for a blast that beat Hammond over the glove at 6:41.
”I think we need a save on one of those first two,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said.
Tatar, who played the past three seasons for Montreal before signing a free agent contract with the Devils in August, put New Jersey on the board with his 14th goal 30 seconds after Evans’ goal. He took a pass from linemate Dawson Mercer and beat Allen, making it 2-1 at 7:11.
New Jersey went 0 for 2 on the power play and is 0 for its past 11 over its five-game skid.
Caufield’s first-period goal was his third in his past three games and his 16th since coach Martin St. Louis took over as Canadiens coach for Dominique Ducharme on Feb. 9. Caufield has four points in Montreal’s past three games and 29 (16 goals, 13 assists) in his past 25 games.
Canadiens: At Toronto on Saturday night
Devils: At Dallas on Saturday.