MONTREAL — Charles Hudon may not have scored the game-winning goal, but his assist in overtime stole the show.
Hudon made a highlight-reel pass to Tomas Plekanec in the extra frame as the Montreal Canadiens beat the visiting New Jersey Devils 2-1 on Thursday to snap a three-game losing skid.
"From the start of the game, he (coach Claude Julien) asked us to win the battles along the boards," said Hudon, who has 13 points this season. "I saw three guys coming towards me and I knew I couldn't lose the puck. I was pretty sure Plekanec was in the slot, and once he got the puck, I knew the game was over."
With his side changing, Hudon skated past the blue line into the Devils zone and held the puck along the half wall. The Canadiens rookie got pinned there by New Jersey's Pavel Zacha and Sami Vatanen but still kept possession.
With Blake Coleman approaching, Hudon managed to get free and poked the puck to a streaking Plekanec, who beat Cory Schneider five-hole at 1:52 for his first goal in 18 games.
"I was planning to (go five-hole)," said Plekanec of his game-winner. "I was just hoping it wasn't going to bounce over my stick when he passed it to me. Hudon made a great play winning that battle. Smart play."
Added Andrew Shaw: "That's the extra effort that we need from guys. He was pinned up against the board by two guys and he happens to get his stick loose and made a great play."
Shaw, playing his 100th game in a Canadiens uniform, scored at 13:31 of the first period when he deflected Jordie Benn's shot from the point through traffic past Schneider to make it 1-1.
Schneider stopped 34-of 36-shots in defeat.
Playing its first game after a four-day break, Montreal (14-14-4) showed some signs of rust, falling behind early.
New Jersey (17-9-5) scored on its first shot of the contest at 1:21 of the first period after a defensive breakdown by the home side.
With a delayed penalty coming to Montreal, Stefan Noesen crossed the blue line unchallenged, took a short pass from captain Andy Greene and launched a wrist shot past Carey Price to extend his point streak to five games.
Price, making his ninth straight start, stopped the next 31 shots he faced.
The Devils were without leading scorer Taylor Hall, who is day-to-day with a knee contusion sustained on Tuesday. Hall, who has 11 goals and 31 points this season, did not travel with the team to Montreal.
The visitors could have used Hall in the second period when the Canadiens took back-to-back penalties, but New Jersey failed to score on a 5-on-3 power play that lasted 1:05, thanks largely to shot blocking by Benn and Shea Weber.
Price made one big save on New Jersey's power play, stopping Drew Stafford on the doorstep while sprawled out on the ice.
"On the power play we had some good looks but it didn't get in the net for us," said Devils coach John Hynes. "We competed hard tonight. We had some really good net traffic. We had lots of tips and we hit two posts.
"He (Price) did a good job. He's an elite goaltender. We had a shot mentality tonight but unfortunately the plays around that area didn't go in."
Montreal upped the pressure in the final frame, outshooting New Jersey 13-7, but Schneider shut the door.
The Habs ended their five-game homestand (2-2-1) on a positive note before they embark on a seven-game road trip, starting with Saturday's outdoor game against the Ottawa Senators to mark the NHL's 100th anniversary.
Notes: The Devils are 10-4-3 on the road. … Montreal forward Daniel Carr saw his five-game point streak come to an end. New Jersey remains third in the Metropolitan division.