Canadiens upend Hurricanes 4-1
MONTREAL (AP) — Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty ended another goal drought against the Hurricanes.
Pacioretty scored twice to help the Canadiens to a 4-1 win over the Hurricanes on Monday night. The goals snapped a goal-less stretch that had seen the 24-year-old winger score just once in his previous 12 games.
“Obviously things weren’t going in for me. It takes a bounce and that’s how it goes,” said Pacioretty, who opened the season with no goals in his first 10 games before a score against the Hurricanes on Feb. 18.
“Different people step up every night for this team and I guess tonight was my chance.”
Pacioretty got his first of the night at 10:58 of the third period when he slipped the puck through an opening to Hurricanes goaltender Justin Peter’s left side.
“I knew once I got that bounce I’d feel good so hopefully I can keep it going,” he said.
The penalty kill, the biggest blemish in the Canadiens’ season to date, ranking 18th heading into the game and 25th on home ice, came up strong against the Hurricanes. Montreal was perfect on all five Carolina opportunities and allowed just two shots on goal.
The Canadiens have killed 21 of their past 23 penalties.
“We approached the group of guys that kill penalties about 10 days ago. That was an aspect of our game that we were not pleased with,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. “We had a good meeting. Guys know their responsibilities and right now they’re doing a good job. They’re battling hard, getting in the shooting lanes, paying attention to detail. It makes a big difference.”
With the win, the Canadiens have a three-point lead over the idle Boston Bruins.
The Hurricanes lost ground in the race for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference following wins by the eighth-place New York Rangers and ninth-seeded New York Islanders. Those teams are tied at 37 points, three points ahead of Carolina.
Carolina has dropped eight of its past nine.
“We haven’t consistently found our game,” said center Jordan Staal, who scored his team’s goal. “We’ve had some spurts and played a really solid game in Winnipeg (on Saturday). Again, even tonight, we had some spurts here and there, but it’s just not a consistent game that we’re playing.”
Carey Price, appearing in his 300th NHL game, made 18 saves for the win. It was the 142nd of his career, ranking him eighth on the Canadiens’ all-time goaltending wins list.
“Carey made some key saves. We only allowed 19 shots, but there were some quality scoring chances and Carey was really good again tonight,” Therrien said.
After the Canadiens were unable to convert on a couple of quality chances in the opening minutes of the first period, the Hurricanes took advantage of a delayed penalty call against Montreal.
Patrick Dwyer broke in, impeded by defenseman Alexei Emelin. Price made the save but the rebound came out to Staal, who scored his 11th of the season at 3:38.
“We came ready, had a good first 10 minutes, scored the first goal and then they pushed back pretty hard and had us on our heels for a little while,” Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said. “Down 2-1 in the third we had some good chances early, hit the post on Jiri (Tlusty’s shot) and then Jussi (Jokinen) right in the slot on the power play.
“It was a tight game and not a lot of space out there. They were able to get that third one and it was difficult to come back from that.”
The Canadiens took the lead on a goal that featured two firsts for Canadiens players. Rookie defenseman Nathan Beaulieu found Jeff Halpern in the slot for the veteran’s first goal of the season while Beaulieu picked up his first NHL point with the assist.
Andrei Markov evened the score on the power play at 15:03 with a slap shot from the right point. P.K. Subban, tying him with Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang and Minnesota’s Ryan Suter for the league lead in points by a defenseman.
Canadiens winger Colby Armstrong had to be helped off the ice early in the third after a hard collision with Dwyer that left him favoring what appeared to be his right leg. He did not return.
Peters stopped 25 shots in his second career loss to Montreal.
Notes: The Canadiens have won all 10 games they’ve played against the Southeast Division this season. ... The win was Montreal’s second straight series sweep after doing the same against the Rangers on Saturday. ... The Canadiens scratched forward Mike Blunden and defensemen Tomas Kaberle and Yannick Weber. ... The Hurricanes scratched forward Adam Hall and Tuomo Ruutu (injured).