The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 at PNC Arena Wednesday night. Carolina has now won three games in a row, five of their last six, and with their win tonight, they keep pace in the wild card race, three points behind the Rangers and Islanders with a game in hand.
The Hurricanes picked up where they left off before Christmas, scoring the first goal of the game 3:44 into the first period. Justin Faulk made a beautiful backhand pass from the near half wall to a wide open Teuvo Teravainen in the slot to blast a one-timer past Carey Price for his ninth goal of the season. Faulk kept the play alive by keeping it in the zone to make the goal possible.
At 11:17 of the first period, Alex Galchenyuk headed to the box for elbowing. Carolina played exceptionally all night on the power play as they were able to run the cycle around the Canadiens penalty kill despite being unsuccessful in their first power play attempt. The Hurricanes’ success on the power play helped open up clean zone entries and consistent pressure that attributed to their 16-5 advantage in shots on goal at the end of the first.
Carolina had a steady amount of physicality in the first period, but it toned down in the second. This gave Montreal an opportunity to make stretch passes that led to scoring chances to help them cut the shot deficit immensely.
Just over five minutes into the second, Galchenyuk carried the puck over center and into the Hurricanes zone on the far side, cut to the center, and lasered a wrist shot over the glove side of Cam Ward to tie the game. The score remained tied at the end of the second although the Canes had some formidable chances on Andrew Shaw’s tripping penalty toward the end of the period.
The Hurricanes picked the physicality back up a little after coming out of the locker room and sharpened their passing game up too. Galchenyuk got the gate again at 8:21 of the third and ultimately paid the price. The puck movement on the powerplay paid dividends for the Canes, as Elias Lindholm worked it to Jordan Staal to the front of the net from the goal line for a one-timer that doesn’t go in. But after a couple of whacks to a loose puck from Sebastian Aho, the Canes led 2-1 and the two Finns are in business again with 11 minutes left.
The Hurricanes managed well on defense and moved the puck well throughout the rest of the third. Aho converted on an empty net opportunity for his 10th of the season to seal the deal 3-1.
Staal earned a win in his 800th game and Cam Ward earned a win in his third consecutive start. The Hurricanes host the Pittsburgh Penguins, with whom they are now tied on 41 points, Friday night at 7:30pm at PNC Arena.
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