Brian Rafalski scores two goals as New Jersey beats the Canadiens 5-2

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Defenceman Brian Rafalski scored twice with New Jersey up two men and the Devils tallied three times on the power play in a 5-2 win over Montreal on Wednesday night, sending the Canadiens to a season-high fifth straight loss.

"It makes a difference when you score on your big power plays," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said after making 19 saves for his 35th win. "A 5-on-3 for over a minute, there is no reason not to get tons of chances or a goal. It should be an automatic in this game if you want to win. Good teams put these in, and we did that."

New Jersey, which had only scored on 2-of-25 power plays in its last five games, has been very good in recent months.

The win was the Devils' fifth in six games and 16th in 22 (16-3-3), moving them within four points of Buffalo in the race for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Zach Parise, Patrik Elias and Sergei Brylin also scored as New Jersey beat the Canadiens for the eighth straight time, a streak that dates to 2004.

"Right now we just have their number," said Devils centre Scott Gomez, who had two assists.

Sheldon Souray and Sergei Samsonov scored for the Canadiens, who have lost 11 of 15 games and are rapidly upsetting their fans.

Rather than make wholesale changes, Souray thinks the Canadiens have the talent to turn things around.

"No one is going to come, there is no saviour who is going to come in and save the day for us," Souray said. "If we are waiting for that, and I don't think we are, we're definitely on the wrong track. We're going to need all the guys in here to keep giving a little more and a little more until we break through."

Montreal also may have sustained another loss. Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet had to leave with 6:49 left in the second period with an injured left hamstring after falling awkwardly in his net on Rafalski's second goal.

"The first one was a good screen by Gio (Brian Gionta) and the second one was a scramble and I had time to take a good look," said Rafalski, whose goals gave New Jersey a 3-1 lead.

Rafalski made two consecutive mistakes late in the first period to set up Souray's 19th, but the all-star defenceman atoned in the second period when the Canadiens took five penalties, twice giving New Jersey two-man advantages.

The first two Montreal penalties changed the game with Francis Bouillon going off for hooking at 1:25 and Souray following 19 seconds later with a delay-of-game penalty for shooting the puck into the stands.

Rafalski tied it at 1-1 with a straight-on shot past a screened Huet just 21 seconds after Souray went to the penalty box.

A minute later, Parise gave New Jersey the lead, finding the top corner of the net from low in the right circle.

"We can't give a team like that two 5-on-3s, especially with the problems that we have lately," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said.

Rafalski got his second goal and fourth of the season at 13:11 after Elias dug the puck out from a scramble in front and found the defenceman about 25 feet in front of Huet.

Samsonov got Montreal within 3-2 at 17:10 with a long shot that Brodeur missed with his glove hand.

Elias restored the two-goal lead midway through, tapping Scott Gomez's pass into an open net after David Aebischer made a save on Mike Rupp. Brylin added an empty-net goal in the final minute.

Aebischer stopped Erik Rasmussen on a penalty shot with 3:12 to play.

Notes: Gionta pulled a groin muscle in the second period and didn't return. ... Canadiens RW Alex Kovalev missed his second straight game with an upper body injury. ... Devils C John Madden and D Colin White missed the game with facial and upper body injuries, respectively. New Jersey recalled D Mark Fraser from Lowell of the AHL. ... Devils RW Jamie Langenbrunner extended his point streak to seven games.



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