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Montreal Canadiens right wing Joshua Roy shoots in front of New Jersey Devils defenceman Kevin Bahl during the first period. Roy scored his first NHL goal as the Canadiens won 3-2 on Jan. 17, 2024, in Newark, N.J.Adam Hunger/The Associated Press

After the Montreal Canadiens blew a two-goal lead early in the third period, the only thing Cole Caufield was thinking about was finding a way to win.

Caufield found it with 4:31 left when he put in a rebound past Nico Daws, and the pesky Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Wednesday night.

“When this team is at its best, what are you doing well? We’re on top of people,” Caufield said. “Our forecheck is probably the biggest factor of how we’re playing and I liked what we did today. Every team is different and you pre-scout every team differently, but I like the way that we’re kind of dialled in no matter who we’re playing against after squandering a two-goal lead.”

Daws made the save on a slap shot by defenceman Jordan Harris, and Sean Monahan nudged the puck toward the goal-line before Caufield swatted it in for his 14th of the season.

Juraj Slafkovsky and Joshua Roy also scored as the Canadiens won their second straight and improved to 4-2-2 in their last eight games. Sam Montembeault made 28 saves.

Luke Hughes and Alexander Holtz scored power-play goals for New Jersey in the opening 1:37 of the third to tie it. Daws stopped 22 shots in his third consecutive start.

“It’s an emotional low of the game for us, obviously, not being able to kill the four-minute penalty,” Montreal coach Martin St. Louis said. “They had momentum right after the two goals, the crowd got behind them. I felt then we had, we took it upon ourselves to make a push and we did.”

The Devils are 9-10-2 at home and 13-7-1 away from the Prudential Center. That’s not a formula to get back to the playoffs.

“We battled back tonight and then we shot ourselves in the foot, allowing a goal with about five minutes left in the period,” said forward Timo Meier, who returned to the lineup after missing six games. “It was one of those small little details where we didn’t execute, and that’s what cost you games.”

Trailing 2-0 late in the second period, the Devils caught a break when Nick Suzuki was called for a double minor for high-sticking defenceman Kevin Bahl.

New Jersey didn’t score in the final 45 seconds of the period, but Hughes and Holtz connected on the power play to tie the game.

Hughes’ shot from the point appeared to deflect off the leg of Montreal forward Jake Evans past Montembeault. Holtz got his 11th of the season on a shot from the top of the left circle.

The Canadiens scored first when Daws made a mistake playing the puck and it led to Caufield setting up Slafkovsky in front. It was his sixth goal of the season and second in two games.

Roy, a fifth-round draft pick in 2021 who was playing his third NHL game, doubled the margin with a slam dunk in front after being set up by Monahan. It was his first NHL goal and Monahan was quick to grab the puck for the 20-year-old.

Up next

Canadiens: Play at Ottawa on Thursday.

Devils: Play at Columbus on Friday.

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