Series (Game 3 of 4)

New Jersey leads 3-1

Game 1: Friday, November 15th
Game 2: Saturday, November 16th
Game 3: Tuesday, January 7th
Game 4: Tuesday, March 18th

Canadiens 2

(16-16-4, 41 pts)

Devils 3

(22-12-3, 49 pts)

7:30 PM ET, January 7, 2003

IZOD Center, East Rutherford, New Jersey

1 2 3 T
MTL 0 2 02
NJ 1 0 23

J. Nieuwendyk (Devils - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

J. Langenbrunner (Devils - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

P. Elias (Devils - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Therrien: 'There is no doubt' referee messed up

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The Montreal Canadiens came to New Jersey and got robbed, at least that's what they are accusing referee Kerry Fraser of doing to them.

Jeff Hackett

Goaltender Jeff Hackett (31) loses his stick as he collides with New Jersey's Jeff Friesen.

Fraser disallowed a first-period Montreal goal and allowed Joe Nieuwendyk's game-winning, third-period goal to stand even though Canadiens goaltender Jeff Hackett was knocked down by a Devils player in a 3-2 New Jersey victory on Tuesday night.

Canadiens coaches and officials screamed at Fraser as he walked off the ice after the game, and general manager Andre Savard had to be physically restrained from going into the dressing room seconds after the game, according to security officials at the Continental Airlines Arena who asked not to be identified.

When reporters walked past the officials' room to the Canadiens locker, there were six security guards outside the room. Normally, there are one or two.

"First of all, we believe we got robbed," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said after emerging some 20 minutes after the game. "There is no doubt about that."

Therrien was already miffed that Fraser disallowed an apparent first-period goal by Mike Ribeiro for incidental contact with Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur.

Replays did not show any contact.

Nieuwendyk's second goal of the third period infuriated the road-weary Canadiens, who saw their winless streak reach seven games (0-4-1-2), all on the road.

Devils forward Jeff Friesen split two Canadiens in their zone but the puck slid off his stick and went to the right of the net.

As Hackett played the puck toward then corner, Friesen bumped into him and knocked him to the ice.

Friesen retrieved the puck and fed Nieuwendyk for a shot into an open net.

Hackett refused to talk to the media after the game.

Friesen denied running the goaltender.

"I wasn't trying to hit him or hurt him," Friesen said. "I was trying to get the puck. He was trying to shield me. I don't know what he was doing. He may have felt the bump and tried to draw a penalty."

The Canadiens felt Friesen deserved one.

"I haven't seen a play like that in a while," former Devil and current Canadiens Randy McKay said.

Fraser told a pool reporter that a goalie can be bumped when he's out of his crease and playing the puck.

"There may be a misconception that goalies are protected everywhere on the ice, that they can't be touched," Fraser said. "That's a fallacy."

That's something the Canadiens had trouble believing.

Even Martin Brodeur was surprised after stopping 20 shots to pick up his 20th win of the season.

"If it happened to me I wouldn't be too pleased," Brodeur said.

Nieuwendyk, who was riding an eight-game goal drought, tied the game at 2-2 on another bang-bang play at 6:36. Christian Berglund had the puck along the sideboards in the Montreal end and he threw a no-look pass in front that Nieuwendyk one-timed past a startled Hackett, who was outstanding in making 33 saves.

"I have felt better recently," said Nieuwendyk, who now has 499 career goals. "Hopefully tonight will be a good springboard."

Although outshot 27-17 in the first two periods, the Canadiens took a 2-1 lead into the final period on second-period goals by Quintal and Hossa.

Saku Koivu set up Quintal's third goal of the season by beating John Madden on a faceoff in the Devils' zone and getting the puck back to the defenseman for a shot between Brodeur's legs at 8:41.

Hossa, who was recalled from Hamilton on Friday and was playing in his first game of the season, gave the Canadiens a 2-1 lead at 16:34, putting the rebound of a shot by Andrei Markov into an open net.

The Devils took the lead minutes later when Elias lifted the rebound of a wrap-around attempt by Sergei Brylin over Hackett.

Game notes
Devils defenseman Colin White suffered a charley horse in the first period and did not play in the final two periods. ... Devils defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky missed his third straight game with a viral problem. ... Canadiens C Doug Gilmour (back spasms) missed his third straight game. ... New Jersey has won two of the three games with Montreal this season. The Devils are 6-3-1 in their last 10.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press