Brodeur grabs 453rd win, lifting Devils past Canadiens

MONTREAL (AP) -- Claude Julien enjoyed his return to the Bell
Centre, especially with Martin Brodeur on his team instead of on
the opposite end of the ice.

Brodeur made 33 saves and Jay Pandolfo and Brian Rafalski each
scored, leading the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 win over the
Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

New Jersey won for the third time in four games following a
4-4-1 start under Julien, who was fired by Montreal on Jan. 14 and
had to find his way to the visitors' locker room.

"I wasn't quite sure how to get there, so it was pretty funny
that way," Julien said. "I had never even bothered looking at how
the visiting room was, so everything today was new for me in the
Bell Centre, including the opposing bench."

Brodeur improved to 30-12-5 against Montreal with his seventh
win of the season, the 453rd of his career -- seven behind Florida's
Ed Belfour for second on the NHL list.

"It's been an up-and-down season for us and so this was
definitely a big game for Claude and it's a great gift we gave
him," Brodeur said. "When he sees his team competing the way it
did today, I'm sure it makes him feel pretty good."

Pandolfo scored his second of the season 12:38 in during a
4-on-4. Rafalski got his first of the season on a power play midway
through the second to put the Devils up 2-0.

Chris Higgins scored his team-leading eighth goal during a power
play in the second to make it 2-1.

"[Brodeur] made some beauty glove saves," Higgins said. "They
play a very boring game ahead of him. They don't make too many
mistakes and try to keep the shots to the outside, and he makes the
saves he should make. That's why he's one of the best in the

Higgins injured his left ankle in the third period when he was
checked by Devils defenseman Colin White.

"I kind of fell awkwardly into the boards and my skate got
jammed into the boards and I hyperextended it or something, but I
don't know anything right now," Higgins said. "I was able to
finish the game, but it's hurting a little bit, that's for sure."

Cristobal Huet stopped 27 shots for the Canadiens, who lost in
regulation for just the third time in 13 games.

Huet, who got his first shutout of the season in Thursday's 4-0
win in Carolina, made a spectacular glove save to deny Jamie
Langenbrunner on a breakaway with just over 7 minutes remaining in
the third.

Pandolfo opened the scoring with both teams down a man in the
first as he completed a nifty passing play with a shot past Huet
into an open right side.

After Brodeur made a sparkling glove save on Alex Kovalev's
wrist shot during a Montreal power play 7:47 into the second,
Rafalski got his first goal since April 2 to put New Jersey up by

The Devils defenseman backhanded a loose puck into a wide-open
net at 10:52 and referee Craig Spada pointed to the net repeatedly
to confirm the goal, ignoring Huet's complaints about being
interfered with by Brian Gionta, who was pushed into Huet by
Canadiens defenseman Craig Rivet.

"I saw a guy in the crease and I just showed the ref he was
there, but I saw the replay and I think he wasn't there by
mistake," Huet said.

Higgins deflected Rivet's shot past Brodeur at 13:46 to draw the
Canadiens within one.

Game notes
Julien led Montreal to a 72-71-16 mark overall, guiding the
Canadiens to the second round of the playoffs in 2004. ...
Canadiens D Andrei Markov ended a four-game points streak. He had
two goals and three assists during that span. ... Kovalev had to be
helped off the ice late in the second after he appeared to hurt his
right knee during a play along the boards. He returned for the
third period.