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Canadiens, Devils meet away from playoff-chase fray

Sportsnaut
Mar 3, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Montreal Canadiens right wing Josh Anderson (17) and right wing Cole Caufield (22) and center Nick Suzuki (14) exchanges words during the third period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The New Jersey Devils’ current homestand has been rather disappointing after the team won six of its previous seven games at the Prudential Center.

The injury-depleted Devils (24-40-6, 54 points) aim to snap a four-game winless skid on Thursday when they play the finale of a four-game homestand against the Montreal Canadiens (19-40-11, 49 points) in Newark, N.J.

After squandering a four-goal lead in the third period of a 7-6 overtime loss to Florida on Saturday, the Devils fell to both the rival New York Islanders and Rangers to drop to 16-16-4 at home this season.

Yegor Sharangovich scored his fourth goal in three games after converting in the first period of the Devils’ 3-1 setback to the Rangers on Tuesday.

Sharangovich then took matters into his own hands to defend a teammate and paid dearly. The 23-year-old received 17 minutes in penalties and a laceration on his head following a fight with rookie defenseman Braden Schneider, who had leveled Jesper Boqvist into the boards.

“(Sharangovich) was showing leadership helping out Boqvist,” teammate Jesper Bratt said. “That’s a side that we haven’t really seen from him. Huge respect from the other guys on the team.”

New Jersey’s Jimmy Vesey sustained a lower-body injury in the second period that will require an MRI.

That news came on the heels of the Devils announcing leading goal-scorer Jack Hughes will miss the remainder of the season with a low grade MCL sprain in his left knee. He sustained the injury in New Jersey’s 4-3 loss against the Islanders on Sunday.

Hughes scored twice in regulation and also tallied in the shootout in the Devils’ last win at home, a 3-2 victory over Montreal on March 27. Sharangovich scored in the seventh round of the shootout to seal the win.

Losing on the road is nothing new for the Canadiens, who are 9-20-7 away from home — with only the Devils having fewer road wins.

Montreal made a pit stop at home after a recent four-game trek and dropped a 6-3 decision to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

Brendan Gallagher collected a goal and an assist in his return from an eight-game absence due to a lower-body injury.

“Gally’s a guy who takes the team to war,” Montreal coach Martin St. Louis said. “He’s in the trenches and he’s able to bring energy to the team, and it’s good to have guys like that over 82 games.”

Cole Caufield has scored a goal in back-to-back games to boost his season total to 16, two shy of team leader Nick Suzuki.

St. Louis paired Caufield and Suzuki on the same line since he assumed control from Dominique Ducharme as head coach on Feb. 9. Caufield has 27 points (15 goals, 12 assists) in the last 25 games, while Suzuki has 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists).

“I think since Cole joined the team (late last season) we were excited to have the opportunity to play together,” Suzuki said, according to the Montreal Gazette. “I think once we were put on a line it kind of clicked right away. On and off the ice, we like being around each other, like playing together. It’s been a lot of fun.”

–Field Level Media