Michael McLeod scores twice, Devils beat Canadiens 7-1
MONTREAL (AP) — The New Jersey Devils played the Montreal Canadiens at the perfect time.
The Devils went into Montreal on a seven-game losing skid and Tomas Tatar hadn’t scored in 12 games, and both streaks ended with New Jersey’s 7-1 thumping of the Canadiens on Tuesday night.
The Devils had just dropped the first of back-to-back games, 4-1 to the Ottawa Senators the night before. Coach Lindy Ruff said he was “really impressed” at how his players redeemed themselves.
“To come out with that energy in a back-to-back, you’re always worried because we come off (the All-Star) break,” Ruff said. “That first game you usually have good energy. Sometimes, the second game not as much, but we got what I would call a four-line effort. We used all six defensemen and we had a real strong skating performance out of everybody.”
Micheal McLeod scored twice and Dawson Mercer, Nico Hischier, Jesper Boqvist and Tatar, on his first game back in Montreal, added goals. Jon Gillies blocked 29 of 30 shots.
“I think we’ve been notably struggling lately, so it’s nice to be back in the win column regardless of who we played and how it happens,” Ryan Graves said.
For Graves, the Devils got the upper hand on the Canadiens because they kept things simple.
“We just played simple hockey,” he said. “I think it’s maybe a lesson for us that goals can come simpler, and that’s how we have to play to have success.”
The Canadiens returned to their struggles. Montreal allowed five or more goals for a fifth straight game.
“We got embarrassed out there tonight,” Josh Anderson said. “We had a couple of mistakes that cost us goals, and you’d think that after the break we’d be refreshed and ready to go but you guys witnessed it out there. I feel embarrassed. We better be ready to go for the next game.”
Brett Kulak had Montreal’s lone goal. Cayden Primeau allowed seven goals on 34 shots, becoming the first Canadiens goalie in 2022 to play an entire game without getting pulled.
McLeod broke the ice for New Jersey at 4:36 of the first period when he converted a rebound for his fourth goal of the season.
Mercer made it 2-0 with 4:29 to go in the first. The Devils caught the Canadiens on the rush and the rookie took a pass from Jesper Boqvist and beat Primeau.
Kulak’s wrist shot from the point whizzed through a crowd of players and past Gillies to make it 2-1 at 5:54 of the second to draw Montreal within 2-1.
“When we came back to make it 2-1, the third goal put us on our heels,” Montreal coach Dominique Ducharme said. “I think that’s where we need to be better and react better, even after the fourth goal at the end of the second. Those are things that break the energy and the rhythm, but it’s in moments like these where the players that step on the ice need to bring the rhythm back.”
The Devils regained their two-goal lead just seconds after killing a penalty. Hischier was left alone on Primeau’s glove side and Yegor Sharangovic found him with a cross-ice pass for a one-timer.
The Devils added two goals in a span of 47 seconds late in the second period. Boqvist added a goal of his own from the high slot with 1:07 left and McLeod notched his second of the night from another Primeau rebound to make it 5-1 20 seconds before the intermission.
The Devils got two in the third. Zacha’s shot from the top of the right faceoff circle on a power play deflected in off Primeau’s glove and Tatar scored from the slot.
Devils: At St. Louis Blues on Thursday.
Canadiens: Host Washington Capitals on Thursday in third game of four-game homestand.
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