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Hurricanes storm past Canadiens

Carolina Hurricanes celebrate Carolina Hurricanes celebrate - The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — The Carolina Hurricanes' special teams shone bright, leading to a 3-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday evening at the Centre Bell.

Jordan Staal, Sebastian Aho, and Seth Jarvis scored for the Hurricanes (47-21-7), who halted Montreal’s (28-33-12) three-game win streak.

Carolina is now the only team in the NHL that ranks in the top three in both power-play and penalty-kill efficiency.

“In a game like tonight where that’s the difference, you want all the parts of your game clicking, but those are two crucial areas,” said Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour.

“The first couple shifts of the third, we were a little sluggish, but the goaltending was really key, it kept us in it. Goaltending and special teams were the difference.”

While Carolina pressed early, it was Montreal which had the first chance in the game.

Mike Matheson appeared to score from a tight angle, but in reality hit both the crossbar and the right post, with the puck never crossing the line. Carolina would respond in kind, increasing their intensity of play for most of the remainder of the period and hitting the post themselves on two separate occasions.

Neither team scored in the first period.

“I thought we were patient, and we didn’t get frustrated,” said Staal. “It always helps being in the lead, especially in this league. It’s hard to score goals and I think they made a really good push in the second, but (Pyotr Kochetkov) made some big saves.”

Staal’s patience would pay off around the halfway mark of the second period, when the best penalty kill in the NHL went to work.

While there was a significant uptick in offence due to penalties for both teams, defence would lead to the opener. After a turnover at the Hurricanes’ blue line, Staal jumped on a loose puck, finishing off the short-handed breakaway with a shot neatly tucked into the bottom corner. Montreal has now surrendered the most short-handed goals this season with 12.

While looking for the tying goal, the Canadiens upped the pressure as the second period came to a close. That pressure would come undone just four minutes into the third period, with Carolina on the power play. The Hurricanes doubled their lead after a fortuitous bounce of the puck left Aho with a wide-open net as the Hurricanes leading scorer made no mistake.

“This was a difficult game, but you can’t be frustrated because a team is difficult to play against,” said Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis. “This has been a top team in the league for some time now and they’re a veteran team that’s always on the same page.

"They don’t have too many holes in their collective game and they’ve been doing this for a while.”

Jarvis finished the scoring with an empty-net goal at 17:12 of the third period.


Hurricanes: Host the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

Canadiens: Host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2024.