Habs send Hurricanes spinning
Bell Centre, Montreal
Tomas Plekanec, MTL — 1G, 3A
Carey Price, MTL — 28 saves
Brian Gionta, MTL — 1G, 1A
The Montreal Canadiens used a big second period to power past the Carolina Hurricanes 7-2 on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
Might want to change the famous phrase from that Don Henley hit to "Everything can change in a Montreal minute."
That's how long it took for the game to be officially over, as goals from Brian Gionta and Maxim Lapierre one minute apart in the second period essentially turned a tense 2-2 tie into a Habs romp in Montreal.
Those markers also officially ended the night of Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward, who was yanked after Lapierre's goal at 15:34 in favour of backup Justin Peters, who was beaten by Benoit Pouliot for Montreal's fifth goal later in the frame.
"The keys were our goaltending, our special teams and our support players — our third- and fourth-line players who were very important," said coach Jacques Martin. "They were getting the puck in deep and outworking Carolina as opposed to our skill guys who weren't doing that."
Definitely not the way Ward wanted to bounce back. He was pulled for the second straight game (in the same period, no less), as he was yanked vs. Philadelphia on Thursday after giving up four goals when the 'Canes went down 8-1. Carolina (8-9-0) has surrendered 15 goals in its last two games.
Hard to fault Ward on either of his second-period goals in Montreal though, as both were beauties. Gionta took a pass from Tomas Plekanec on a rush and fired an in-close short-side shot over Ward's left shoulder.
While the Bell Centre was still rocking, Lapierre blew the top off the joint by making Ward look silly with a 360-degree spin-o-rama move on a breakaway, fooling the Carolina goalie to move out of position and scoring into a practically empty net.
"Our last two games were not a goaltending issue," said Carolina coach Paul Maurice. "I thought we were the better team in the first period and we battled back in the second, but then we made some simple mistakes on reads.
"The fact is we have some consistency issues with our team that we have to sort out."
Markov hurt again
But the win may have come at a cost. Hard-luck defenceman Andrei Markov got tangled up with Carolina captain Eric Staal in the third period and may have injured his right knee on the play — the same knee that he hurt during the playoffs last season, requiring surgery. Markov also missed the first 2½ months of last season because of a deep skate cut suffered in the opening game.
"When you see him down like that it's not a nice feeling," said Plekanec. "He's an important player for us and I hope it's not serious."
The Canadiens said Markov suffered a lower body injury and it is being evaluated by doctors.
Goalie Carey Price continued his strong play with a stellar first period, turning away a number of shots on two Carolina power plays before Plekanec opened the scoring at 11:18 of the first.
Plekanec, who had a four-point night, then set up Michael Cammalleri for Montreal's second at 18:32. The Canes outshot the Habs 15-10 in the frame but Montreal grabbed a 2-0 lead, mostly on the back of Price's play.
"We had some sloppy parts to the game but Price gave us a chance to win," Gionta said. "He said made big saves in the first two periods.
"He's been our No. 1 guy."
He put an exclamation mark on the night by absolutely robbing Chad LaRose with a glove save halfway through the third, keeping the score 5-2. LaRose thought he had an open net after taking a cross-crease pass, but Price dived over and took a goal away with his left hand.
It brought up chants of "Carey! Carey!" from the Bell Centre faithful.
Price has given up only three goals in the last three games, all Montreal victories, and has picked up a shutout along the way.
Andrei Kostitsyn and Mathieu Darche added goals for the Canadiens in the third.
Habs captain Gionta is looking more and more like he's over his early season troubles, notching three goals and five points in his last three games.
Staal dragged Carolina back into the game in the second, setting up Anton Babchuk and Tom Kostopoulos for goals to even the game at 2-2 before Montreal's offensive explosion.
The Canadiens (11-5-1) next host Philadelphia on Tuesday, while Carolina travels to Ottawa on Wednesday.
With files from The Canadian Press