MONTREAL – Good things seem to happen for the Carolina Hurricanes when they play the Montreal Canadiens.
Eric Staal’s long shot trickled between goaltender Carey Price’s pads and lay near the goal-line for Tuomo Ruutu to push into the net 1:43 into overtime to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Canadiens on Sunday night.
The Hurricanes won the season series between the teams 3-1 and are now 12-3 in their last 15 meetings with Montreal. Goalie Cam Ward improved to 9-2-2 in his career against the Canadiens.
“It’s a great building to play in,” said Staal, who had a goal and two assists. “There’s something about this building and about playing this team that brings out the best in a lot of guys in our room.
“There was a huge snowstrom outside and it was jammed for the warm-ups. It was a lot of fun trying to quiet down 21,000-plus and score some goals, so it was a huge win for our team.”
Sergei Samsonov also scored for Carolina (16-13-5), which is now 4-2-3 since Paul Maurice replaced Peter Laviolette behind the bench.
Matt D’Agostini scored in the second period and Robert Lang forced overtime with a goal at 13:08 of the third for Montreal (18-9-6), which took five of a possible six points on a three-game homestand before its Christmas break.
But most of the talk after the game was about three quick whistles by the officials that may have cost the Canadiens goals, and the lack of a quick whistle on Ruutu’s game-winner, all of which had the Bell Centre crowd of 21,273 in a booing mood for much of the night.
Coach Guy Carbonneau was more concerned about an inconsistent effort – sometimes lax, sometimes very intense – and the penalties his team took against the hard-working Hurricanes.
“The penalties were deserved – we keep getting ourselves in trouble because of that,” said Carbonneau. “That’s the way they play.
“You have to dig and outwork them and that’s not how we played. But we were able to tie it. We had a bit of bad luck at the end, but five out of six points isn’t bad. We’ll take it.”
The fans were upset at what they felt was a quick whistle as Max Lapierre had a chance near the net in the first period.
And they were booing Samsonov, a former Canadien, as he went in one-on-one against Roman Hamrlik, took a shot and then flipped in the rebound 13:48 into the game.
“I don’t really hear anything on the ice,” said Samsonov. “A little bit, but you just try to concentrate on the game and do your job.”
They booed again as a whistle deprived Tomas Plekanec of a goal as he slid Mike Komisarek’s rebound under Ward. But only a minute later, Alex Tanguay served up a puck for D’Agostini to fire into an open side 6:10 into the second frame. It was D’Agostini’s sixth goal in 11 games since he was called up from AHL Hamilton.
Plekanec was sent off for slashing, and 15 seconds later Lapierre whacked Joni Pitkanen’s stick out of his hands to give the Hurricanes a two-man advantage. Staal made it count with his 14th goal of the season at 14:52.
The booing went on and on 11:43 into the third period as Guillaume Latendresse put the puck in the net as a whistle blew for a slashing call against Carolina’s Matt Cullen, but they quickly changed to cheers as Lang drilled a low shot in from the left circle the tie the game at 13:08.
“I was so mad,” Latendresse said of the whistle. “The same thing happened for them in overtime and they called it a goal.
“But it’s a tough call for the refs and we just have to accept it and play.”
Near the 17 minute mark of the third, Price made a huge save on Chad Larose only to be matched a moment later by Ward’s save on Sergei Kostitsyn from the doorstep.
Komisarek was relieved to be going into a break before their next game in Pittsburgh on Saturday. He said he was suffering from a flu during two weekend games, especially during a 4-3 win Saturday night over Buffalo when he needed an IV drip between periods and kept a bucket beside him on the bench.
“Just another day in paradise,” he said.
Notes – With a snowstorm blanketing the city, there was a change in officials as referee Marc Joanette worked the game instead of Kelly Sutherland and linesmen Steve Barton and Pierre Champoux filled in for Scott Driscoll and Darren Gibbs. Only ref Francois St-Laurent made it from the originally scheduled foursome. . . Andrei Kostitsyn sat out with a knee injury while Ryan O’Byrne was a healthy scratch for Montreal. . . Niclas Wallin and Wade Brookbank didn’t play for Carolina.