Montreal Canadiens center Lars Eller, right, of Denmark, competes for the puck with New Jersey Devils defenseman Andy Greene during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 16, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
NEWARK, N.J. - Things are going so well for the Montreal Canadiens that even the kids they are bringing up from the minor leagues are contributing.
Making his NHL debut, big defenceman Jarred Tinordi set up Tomas Plekanec's tiebreaking goal in the third period, and the Canadiens extended their winning streak to five games with a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.
"What a start for the kid," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said of the 20-year-old son of former NHL defenceman Mark Tinordi. "We're all pleased with the way he played the puck at net. It looked routine out there for him.
"He showed a lot of poise for his age and played very solid. He wasn't nervous. He saw more ice time because you can see him become more comfortable. He made the right decisions."
The best decision by Jarred Tinordi was understanding that goalie Johan Hedberg's clearing pass from behind the net took a bad bounce off the sideboards and was heading to open ice above the left circle. The 6-foot-6 Tinordi skated toward the puck from the right side and let go a shot that Plekanec deflected past Hedberg at 6:49.
"I felt pretty comfortable out there," said Tinordi, who played 19 shifts and almost 15 minutes just two days after being called up from Hamilton. "I think the nervousness and the butterflies were gone after the first couple of shifts.
"I tried not to think about the way I was playing. I knew we scored on the play. I didn't realize I got an assist. The boys were pretty happy for me. I was just shooting it to get it on net."
Hedberg said the goal was the type one would expect to decide a tight-checking game.
'We make that play 20 times a game, and sometimes the puck doesn't want to go your way," said Hedberg, who finished with 20 saves. "It came back to them and boom boom, it's in the net. It was one of those games that comes down to a goal like that, and we were weren't fortunate enough to get it."
Colby Armstrong also scored for Montreal, and Carey Price made 32 saves. The Canadiens moved into a tie with Pittsburgh for the most points in the Eastern Conference.
Defenceman Peter Harrold scored for New Jersey, which lost for the second time in two nights (0-1-1).
"It's a tough one to swallow, but their goalie played well and so did ours," Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk said.
Price was just a little bit better in making Plekanec's 12th goal of the season stand up. He stopped 18 shots in the third period, including a chest save through traffic on Patrik Elias with 1:24 left and stoning Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac in close in the final minute.
"They put a little bit of a full-court press on us, but our guys battled hard all night," Price said. "We're working hard every night, trying to keep things simple. I think that's the style of play we have to have. We have good teamwork and that's what's working for us.
"I think our team is excellent in coming back after I make a save, collapsing on everything I leave out there, cleaning up the trash. We're sticking to the game plan and that makes it a lot easier."
Playing for the third time in four nights, the Devils tied it 1-1 on Harrold's power-play goal at 3:54 of the second period.
With Ryan White off for holding the stick, Kovalchuk intercepted a clearing pass at the right point and slid the puck across the ice to Harrold. The defenceman got a shot off quickly and squeezed it between Price's pads for his first goal since Dec. 2, 2010—a span of only 26 games for the journeyman, who has spent much of his career in the minor leagues.
Armstrong snapped a 39-game goal drought, dating to February 2012, to give the Canadiens the lead at 8:08 of the first period.
Devils defenceman Anton Volchenkov lost his footing shortly after a faceoff. Armstrong retrieved the puck, skated into the right circle and ripped a shot past Hedberg, who made his career-high 12 straight start in place of the injured Martin Brodeur.
Forward Mike Blunden, who grabbed an early-morning flight after being recalled from Hamilton, appeared to screen Hedberg on the play.
"You have to like the way the young guys played," Canadiens captain Brian Gionta said. "They came through."
Goal posts kept both teams from taking the lead during the same second-period penalty. Kovalchuk, who leads the NHL with four short-handed goals, just missed another on a 2-on-1 break while Harrold was in the penalty box.
Lars Eller beat Hedberg about a minute later, but that puck also struck a post.
NOTES: The Canadiens have scored first in 21 of 28 games. ... Montreal RW Michael Ryder had his streak of 114 consecutive games played snapped because of a lower body injury. He last missed a game in March 2011. ... Devils C Andrei Loktionov, who was hurt Friday against Philadelphia, sat out due to an undisclosed injury. ... C Harri Pesonen made his NHL debut for New Jersey. .. Harrold was cut badly on the forehead by a shot in the third period, but returned to the game. ... The Devils honoured former goalie coach Jacques Caron before the game.