The Montreal Canadiens opened his pre-season NHL campaign at home, but allowed two unanswered goals and fell to the New Jersey Devils 2-1 Monday.
Cole Caufield scored first for the Canadians, but ex-Hab Tomas Tatar and Graeme Clarke scored the Devils goals to record the victory.
Jake Allen kept a clean sheet with 18 saves in 29 minutes of play. Cayden Primeau replaced for the second half of the game and stopped 11 of 13 shots.
McKenzie Blackwood allowed one goal and made 15 saves in just over 31 minutes. Nico Daws played from the back of the game and stopped all five shots fired at him.
Juraj Slafkovsky played his first game in front of the Bell Center crowd. Home fans were thrilled to finally see the Canadiens’ first NHL draft pick since Doug Wickenheiser.
The Slovak received a loud ovation with his first touch of the puck, but stayed off the scoresheet, only picking up a second-period interference penalty.
Caufield was quick to get back to where he left off and opened the scoring on the power play with a one-timer of Mike Hoffman’s pass in the first period. In the process, Pte. Claire, Que. Mike Matheson, a native of Claire, picked up his first point as a Canadian.
The Devils responded with a power play goal. Jesper Bratt found Tatar from the back of the Montreal net and the Slovak fired the puck over Primeau’s glove.
Owen Beck, who raised his eyebrows during the Prospects Challenge, continued to impress on the front row flanked by Caufield and Hoffman alongside him. The 2022 second-round pick hit the crossbar in the right face-off circle in the third period to try to regain the lead.
The Devils took their first lead of the game at 14:03 of the third period. Clark took a shot from the right faceoff circle but Primeau blocked the shot. The puck then bounced off Clark’s skate and past the Canadiens goalie.
Montreal responded instantly when Michael Pezzetta redirected Matheson’s shot from the point, but a challenge from the Devils revealed there was an offside on the play.
REMARKS: Nico Hischier played two periods and suffered from cramps. The Devils captain did not return to the game after the second intermission as a precaution.