NEWARK, N.J. -- First place in the Atlantic Division was a seemingly unreachable goal for the New Jersey Devils when star goalie Martin Brodeur tore his biceps in early November.
• Paul Martin scored on a breakaway goal and added an assist to lift the Devils to their fifth straight win.
• Scott Clemmensen improved to 19-9-1 as Martin Brodeur's replacement, and New Jersey heads into the All-Star break in first place in the Atlantic Division.
• Montreal has just two wins in their last 29 games at New Jersey (22 losses, 4 ties, 1 OTL).
• The Devils have now scored 4.3 goals per game in their last 15 wins.
-- ESPN research
Despite that setback, Devils sit atop the division heading into the All-Star break.
Paul Martin scored on a breakaway goal and added an assist to help the Devils beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight win.
"It's a credit to the players, staying with it and being strong," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "Being mentally strong allows you to handle adversity on the ice. We've dealt with adversity in the right way. Guys in that room have been through a lot, and they don't seem to get rattled."
That's especially true of Scott Clemmensen, Brodeur's replacement, who made 26 saves to improve to 19-9-1.
"I don't feel like I have to win games by myself," Clemmensen said. "I don't think the team feels they have to work harder to compensate for me, either. The team has confidence in me and I feel if I just play strong, I can let them do the rest."
Josh Gorges and Matt D'Agostini scored for Montreal, 1-10-1-1 in its last 13 games in New Jersey. The Canadiens head into the break on a two-game losing streak, having lost 4-2 in Atlanta on Tuesday night.
"The last 30 minutes against Atlanta was better," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. "Tonight we struggled for 60 minutes, but that's the way the Devils play. They make you work hard, they make you push yourself. Give them credit, that's the way they play. We've seen this for the last 15 years. We didn't have enough people respond."
Martin got the Devils rolling at 11:52 of the first, only moments after serving a cross-checking penalty. Elias spotted Martin skating behind the Montreal defense and hit him with a perfect lead pass. Martin broke in on Carey Price, making his first start in three weeks because of an ankle injury, and whipped the puck between the goalie's pads.
In the second, Zajac put the Devils up 2-0 at 6:18 by knocking home the rebound of Parise's shot that was loose in the Canadiens' crease.
Gorges got Montreal on the board at 13:56 before Martin set up Oduya for a slapper from the top of the left circle at 18:20 for a 3-1 Devils lead.
Parise padded the New Jersey lead to 4-1 at 2:05 of the third on a shot from the left wing that a Montreal defender deflected past Price. Parise, the Devils' goal leader with 28, has six goals in the last seven games.
D'Agostini got a power-play goal at 7:46 that took several lucky bounces. The initial shot was deflected by Oduya and appeared to glance off Montreal's Max Pacioretty, who was initially credited with the goal.
Elias closed the scoring with a short-handed tally into an empty net.