Jordan Staal made his long-awaited return to action. Jiri Tlusty and his team-leading 10 goals was back in the lineup. The Carolina Hurricanes finally had some positives going into this game and started out with more energy but it turned out to be a familiar result as the Montreal Canadiens defeated them, 3-1 on Monday night in front of 17,123 at PNC Arena.
After a scoreless and pretty evenly played first period, Montreal took the lead on a nice play by Jiri Sekac about 6:45 into the second. The winger had just left the penalty box and took a loose puck into the Carolina zone, skated around a bit, then lifted a backhander past Cam Ward to make it 1-0, visitors.
The score stayed that way until late in the period when the Hurricanes had trouble getting the puck out of their zone. Lars Eller made them pay with a perfect shot from the slot to make it 2-0, with just 1:15 left in the second.
The Canes came on strong in the third and finally scored when Eric Staal knocked in a rebound during a powerplay opportunity. Staal had drawn a penalty against P.K. Subban and then drove the net during the man advantage. Tlusty was in the crease and helped keep the puck loose and away from Carey Price, who had robbed Riley Nash twice and other Canes earlier in the game. Staal then rammed home the puck from in close to get the Canes back into the game, making the score 2-1.
The comeback was not meant to be though as Price made one save after another to seal the win. The Canes outshot the Canadiens 13-4 in that period and 29-19 for the game.
The Habs are now 13-0-0 when scoring first in a game this season.
Late in the game, things got chippy as Eric Staal went down after a hit by Andrei Markov and Subban took out Jordan Staal on a dangerous play from behind. The Montreal defenseman looked to be reaching for the puck but dove and crashed into Staal's legs. The younger Staal made it off the ice but had to be examined by a team physician after the game. Bill Peters said that he appeared to be okay after being checked out.
In the postgame interviews, the same old things were said. The players need to crash the net and make life harder for the opposing goalies but this team is not accomplishing what they say they need to do. They have scored just 10 goals in their last 10 losses, have just two wins in their last 12 games, and they have now won just six of their last 22.
Things don't get easier as they next face the Penguins in Pittsburgh on New Year's Eve.
- Jordan Staal played 19:01 in this game, right about where Bill Peters wanted him to be. He finished with an assist, two shots, three hits and won 60% in the circle.
- Andrej Sekera had a team high 22:29 of ice time. Justin Faulk was right behind.
- Eric Staal's goal was his eighth of the season, in what was his 800th game played in the NHL.
- Brad Malone dropped the gloves with Brandon Prust early in this affair and it was quite a long bout filled with haymakers. The fight got the large crowd into the game early. Malone finished with a team low 7:21 of ice time.
- Cam Ward played well but allowed two goals on 18 shots while counterpart, Price was named player of the game with his 28 saves on 29 shots.
- Eric Staal led the way with five shots on goal. Jeff Skinner, Tlusty, and Nash were next with four each.