(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens will aim for a third straight win tonight when they host the New Jersey Devils at Bell Centre. The Devils, meanwhile, will simply be trying to get something positive going in a season that has been full of disappointment in the early going.
The Devils signed superstar sniper Ilya Kovalchuk to a long-term deal in the offseason and were considered by some to be a Stanley Cup contender. However, the club has struggled mightily so far, going 1-4-1 under rookie head coach John MacLean.
New Jersey's lone win of the year came last Wednesday in Buffalo, but the club followed that victory with consecutive home losses to Colorado and Boston. The Devils last played Saturday against the Bruins and were handed a 4-1 loss by the visitors.
Martin Brodeur allowed four goals on 35 shots, continuing his shaky start to the season. Outside of posting a shutout against Buffalo, the future Hall of Famer has had little to celebrate this year as he has a 3.18 goals-against average and .887 save percentage.
"It's important that we start playing better," Brodeur said. "I think the young kids are playing really well and I think some of the older players, we're having a hard time, counting me. Tough to be the solution, but I think everyone will be the solution when we all get together and be on the same page."
Brodeur is expected to get his seventh start of the year tonight, while defenseman Olivier Magnan, who has been recalled from Jersey's AHL affiliate in Albany, will make his NHL debut in his home province.
"First NHL game, you're going to be a little nervous," Magnan told New Jersey's website. "But especially in Montreal, so I'm just going to try to keep it simple. A hockey game is a hockey game whether you're in Montreal, here in Jersey or anywhere else. I'm just going to do the same thing."
Magnan, 24, was a fifth-round pick by the Devils in 2006 and has been brought up due to injuries to New Jersey defensemen Anssi Salmela, Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov. Salmela and Salvador are on injured reserve, while Volchenkov has missed the last four games with a broken nose.
The Canadiens have won two in a row for the first time this season, posting victories on back-to-back nights against Buffalo and Ottawa, respectively. The Habs posted a 2-1 victory in Buffalo on Friday before edging the Senators, 4-3, on home ice the following night.
Tomas Plekanec scored with just under four minutes remaining in the third period to lift Montreal to the victory over the rival Senators. Plekanec added an assist, while Andrei Kostitsyn also had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens. Jeff Halpern and Brian Gionta also scored in the win.
"Andrei's playing great," Plekanec said. "He had the tying goal late in the second as we came back to capitalize on their faults. He also set me up for the winner late in the third. He's playing, taking the body and unleashing his shot like he should."
Carey Price needed to stop only 16 shots to earn the victory and improve to 3-1-1 on the season.
This marks the first meeting of the year between the Devils and Habs. New Jersey won three out of four encounters in 2009-10 and has taken seven of eight and 16 of 20 overall in the series. The Devils have also picked up wins in four straight and eight of their last 10 trips to Montreal.