The Devils drove what will prove to be the final nail in the Canadiens’ playoff coffin Thursday night with their 5-3 come-from-behind win.  The Canadiens took a 3-1 lead on a shorthanded goal by Mathieu Darche and then watched the Devils score four straight to win the game 5-3.

Adding It Up –

……Think “Lottery Pick” – The loss dropped the Canadiens into a three way tie for last place in the Eastern Conference with Carolina and the Islanders each with 47 points.  Only Anaheim and Edmonton (45) and Columbus (32) have fewer points.

……In the Game – Unlike the home ice loss to Buffalo, the Canadiens did actually compete on this night.  It was a tough hard-hitting and often chippy game.  A total of 64 hits, 28 of them by the Canadiens.  As usual, Alexei Emelin led the way with four, P.K. Subban with three (one of them a devastating third period check on Adam Larsson that put him out of the game).   Only three Canadiens players did not record at least one hit; Gomez, Weber and Bourque.

…..”You’re Welcome!”  –  Carey Price’s words to Zach Parise after he let Parise’s long easily stoppable shot get under his pad for the Devils first goal after the Canadiens had taken a 2-0 lead.

….. Abandoned by the Hockey Gods – The next three Devils goals were hardly works of art.  With the score 3-1 Ilya Kovalchuk caromed the puck off David Clarkson’s leg past Price.  Ponilarovky’s shot hit Dainus Zubrus stick and deflected into the goal to tie the game and the game winner was scored when Kovalchuk’s shot was  partially blocked by David Desharnais and the puck slid right to Parise at the side of the net.

…..The Nemesis – Martin Brodeur gave up three goals and I suppose, for that reason wasn’t given first star, but he was, in fact, the first star of the game.  He was left to his own devices on all three Canadiens goals, but this game could have been out of side by the game’s midpoint.  He was particularly spectacular on Andrei Kosstitsyn twice, Tomas Plekanec twice, Rene Bourque and Max Pacioretty.  His 42nd career win against the Canadiens.

……One More For the Clinic – Patrick Elias, who does not have a track record in this sort of thing,  hit Michael Blunden from behind slamming him face first into the top of the boards in front of the Canadiens bench.  Elias was given a two minute penalty for boarding.  Blunden did not return to the game.  “Lower body” they’re telling us.  Brendan Shanahan will be reviewing the play in his office tomorrow.

…..Also Noteworthy – …..Good night from Andrei Kostitsyn.  He scored the second goal and seemed to be comfortable Darche and Leblanc.   ….Louis Leblanc put in 9:29 mostly, drew the second assist on the Kostitsyn goal and wound up plus-1 on the night.   ……Mathieu Darche had a particularly good night.  His hustle on the Plekanec breakaway led to the shorthanded goal on the rebound. …..Carey Price blew the first goal.  After that it was simply everything must have seemed like a pinball game to him.   …..Much made of the play that led to the game winning goal.  Randy Cunneyworth said a hooking penalty should have been called on Kovalchuk as Erik Cole was trying to get out of the Canadiens zone.   Replays showed Kovalchuk stick checking Cole from behind, but no hook was involved.  The puck was taken at the line by Andy Green who sent it to Kovalchuk who’s shooting attempt was partially blocked by Desharnais before sliding to Parise who, with Price at the top of the crease expecting the Kovalchuk shot,  had the open side for the goal.   …..Cunneyworth had a better argument over the fact that the Elias boarding of Blunden resulted in only a two minute minor penalty.  (Video of the incident below)……According to my unofficial count the game scoring chances were even – 18-18.  The Canadiens had a wide edge after two periods (13-7)but in the third period the Devils led 11-5.  ……It was the sixth time this season the Canadiens have lost a game after leading by two goals.  They have lost 15 times when they’ve scored the first goal.

Moving On  – Afternoon games Saturday and Sunday against Washington and then Winnipeg.  The Canadiens now 11 points out of eighth place with 31 games left in their season.