Alexander Mogilny scored two goals and the Devils unleashed an offensive explosion in opening their defense of the Cup with an 8-4 victory over the hapless Canadiens on Friday night.
"I think everybody has to be worried who plays against us," Devils forward Patrik Elias said. "We didn't play as good as we could at first but the second and third we took over, cycled and gave them a lot of trouble."
"It was a very emotional night," Devils coach Larry Robinson said. "I don't think it's really how we want to play, but I was very pleased with how we moved the puck and made the most of our opportunities."
"They ate us alive in one-on-one situations," Canadiens coach Alain Vigneault said. "When that happens you get the type of game and the type of score you got tonight."
The big spurt came early in the second period when Sykora, Mogilny and White scored in a 3:18 span to snap a 2-2 tie and send Canadiens goalie Jeff Hackett to the bench after just 24:59 of playing time.
Sykora, who missed most of the preseason after having his tonsils removed, capped a 2-on-1 at 1:41 by one-timing a pass from Elias past Hackett, who only faced 13 shots.
Mogilny put his own rebound in at 3:13 and White did the same from a bad angle at 4:59.
"We don't have a first line," Mogilny said. "We've got four lines, that's the beauty of this team."
Mathieu Garon made his NHL debut in replacing Hackett and played well the rest of the period, during which Koivu scored to narrow the lead to 5-3.
However, New Jersey put the game away when Mogilny and Stevenson scored 67 seconds apart early in the third period to give the Devils a 7-3 advantage.
"We made some bad decisions in the neutral zone which led to bad turnovers," Savage said. "They are a good regrouping team and they have speed coming down the wings. That really hurt us."
It was a good start for the Devils, who are haunted by the memory that they didn't even make the playoffs the year after they won their first Cup in 1995.
"We have a lot of pressure on us," Mogilny said. "We won the Cup last year and it was an emotional night for a lot of people. It wasn't a pretty win but we got the job done."
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur finished with 26 saves in the wide-open game that featured 11 power plays and one good fight which paired Montreal's P.J. Stock and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Scott Stevens. New Jersey forward Randy McKay got a game-misconduct penalty for being the third man involved.
Holik and Nemchinov staked New Jersey to a 2-0 lead in the opening 7:04, but Montreal tied it on Delisle's first NHL goal and a power-play score by Savage in the next five minutes.
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