Besides playoff elimination games, this may have been one of the more "must-win" regular season games in recent New Jersey Devils history.
If the Devils couldn't win in Montreal, a place where they've been quite successful in the recent past, and with Martin Brodeur in net, who was 38-16-5 with eight career shutouts against the Canadiens, it might have been time to hit the panic button—for real.
But Brodeur came up big with a 29 save shutout—his ninth career against the Canadiens and second of the season—as the Devils defeated the Canadiens 3-0 for just their second win in seven games this season.
If the Devils were to lose this game, they would have lost six of their first seven games of the season. Under a rookie head coach, with the lineup that the Devils possess, to say that there would have been panic among the club would have been the understatement of the decade.
After Saturday's loss to the Bruins at home (the Devils are 0-4 at home), Brodeur was very stern in saying the way the Devils were playing had to change.
"I know everybody thinks we're all offense right now, but all offense isn't working right now," Brodeur said. "So I think if we get it back to playing a solid defensive game, we'll get more opportunities."
The Devils certainly started playing more sound defensive hockey, as Brodeur was rarely—if ever—hung out to dry as he has been several times this year already.
With the timing of this big win for New Jersey, this could be the time for them to jump-start their season. They play the struggling Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night, where the Devils hope to pick up their first home victory of the season.
The next night, the Devils will go into Madison Square Garden to play the New York Rangers for the first time this season. These rivalry games are always toss-ups. If the Devils can defeat the Rangers on Sunday and take advantage of a struggling Sabres team the night before, all of a sudden, the Devils will be 4-4-1.
Then, the Devils will get a second chance to be able to finally start their season. And if they do, the other 29 teams better watch out.
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