Devils nip Canadiens

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MONTREAL – Brian Gionta got his 43rd goal and Scott Gomez scored twice – his 29th and 30th – and the New Jersey Devils took sole possession of sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

Martin Brodeur made 40 saves for New Jersey, which won its sixth in a row and moved two points clear of seventh-place Montreal. The Canadiens, who outshot the Devils 42-29, ended an eight-game winning streak, their longest in over 13 years.

Gionta, who also had an assist, extended his points streak to 10 games. Gomez, who had an assist and finished with three points, has seven points in two games, including a goal and three assists in a 6-4 win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.

Mike Ribeiro ruined Brodeur’s shutout bid when he got credit for his 16th goal 11:20 into the third, 1:07 after Gomez scored his second of the game to put the Devils up 3-0. Chris Higgins scored a power-play goal at 19:47 to draw Montreal within one.

Devils defenseman Colin White was called for tripping with 6.4 seconds remaining and the Bell Centre crowd was on its feet as Brodeur made a save off Alex Kovalev with 3.8 seconds left.

Gionta and Gomez, the Devils’ top two scorers, combined for five points. Gionta opened the scoring 17:16 in, beating Cristobal Huet with a shot from the slot. The Rochester, N.Y., native assisted on Gomez’s 29th goal midway through the second for his team-leading 78th point.

Gomez drew his 46th assist on Gionta’s goal and has 76 points.

The Canadiens lost center Steve Begin to a knee injury late in the first on a play that resulted in a pair of minor penalties being called against New Jersey.

With a delayed penalty for hooking already signaled against Sergei Brylin, defenseman Ken Klee put the Devils two men down for 2:00 when he slashed Begin in front of the net at 18:05. The Montreal center fell awkwardly and lay in front of the Devils net in obvious pain. He was helped off the ice and did not return.

The Canadiens had a 5-on-3 advantage for the final 1:55 of the period, but managed just two shots on Brodeur.

The Devils’ goalie got some help earlier in the period as well when White made a lunging stab to knock the puck away from Kovalev, who was driving in on Brodeur on a clear breakaway in the first just moments before New Jersey center Patrik Elias was sent off for tripping at 13:31.

Notes: Gionta has the most goals by a Devils’ player since Alexander Mogilny scored 43 in 2000-01. Gionta is three goals behind Pat Verbeek’s franchise record of 46 set in 1987-88. … Brodeur has 80 career shutouts. … The Canadiens last won eight in a row from Oct. 24 to Nov. 11, 1992. They had a team-record 12-game winning streak in 1967-68. … Montreal has sold out each of its 38 home games.

AP-ES-04-08-06 2141EDT

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