Staal, Hurricanes hand Canadiens third straight loss

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) — Special teams were just that
in this one – special.

Eric Staal scored a pair of power-play goals and defenseman Joe
Corvo added another for the game-winner as the Carolina
Hurricanes dealt the Montreal Canadiens their third consecutive
loss with a 3-2 victory on Tuesday.

Guillaume Latendresse scored on a penalty shot and Alexei
Kovalev ended a 19-game drought with a short-handed goal for the
Canadiens, who have lost four of their last five contests.

Carolina, which entered with a league’s 27th-ranked power play
at 13.2 percent, took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission
thanks to Staal.

“When we’re moving our feet and their sticks in the air, that’s
the way the game’s called now,” Staal said. “They’re going to
call them. A lot of them were hooks and trips and there’s not
much a ref can do but call a penalty.”

After Montreal failed to clear the puck, Staal opened the
scoring with 9:52 left in the period when he took a cross-ice
pass from Sergei Samsonov and one-timed it into the open side of
the net.

Staal doubled the advantage with 2:10 remaining, notching his
13th goal of the season on another man advantage.

The Canadiens wasted little time evening the contest in the
middle session after Latendresse was slashed on a breakaway by
blue-liner Brett Carson at 2:35. Latendresse then blasted his
attempt over the glove of Cam Ward to cut the deficit to 2-1.

“I didn’t know what to do, but my best play is to shoot,”
Latendresse said. “It’s harder for the goalie to stop a shot
than a deke. The quality of the ice at the end of the period,
it was the best I could do.”

Montreal knotted the score at 2-2 just 82 seconds later when
Kovalev scored for the first time since November 1. Kovalev,
who led the team with 35 goals last season, also notched his
first short-handed goal since the 2001-2002 season.

“It’s definitely nice to get one but it would have been even
nicer if it had won the game,” Kovalev said.

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With eight seconds left on a 5-on-3 advantage, Corvo netted the
decisive goal with a slap shot from the high slot that beat
Canadiens netminder Jaroslav Halak, who finished with 24 saves.

“(Hurricanes coach) Paul (Maurice) made some jokes on the bench
to make sure to shoot the puck,” Corvo said. “We had a lot of
those ‘oops’ plays on our previous power plays.”

Carolina had 11 power plays in the game and the nearly constant
parade of Montreal players to the penalty box annoyed Canadiens
coach Guy Carbonneau.

“I really don’t want to talk about it,” Carbonneau said. “It’s
amazing for me that despite the fact they scored three
power-play goals, we were in the game.”

Besides the slashing penalty that led to Latendresse’s penalty
shot, the only other infraction called on the Hurricanes was for
high sticking by Ray Whitney 5 1/2 minutes into the final

The Canadiens, whose power play is ranked 29th in the NHL, were
unable to convert.

The rest of the way was penalty free for both teams and
Carbonneau said he thought the outcome of the game may have been
different had the game not been one-sided with penalties.

“I thought we played better than them,” Carbonneau said. “We
were all over them. They had nothing going until they had a
power play. So I am happy with the way we played. I’m just not
happy with the rest of the game.”

Ward was solid, recording his first win since November 28. He
turned aside 22 shots, making a pair of key saves in the final
10 seconds when Kovalev and Alex Tanguay almost converted a
3-on-1 rush.

“For the first most part, we were on the power play so much,
they didn’t really have many quality opportunities until the
third period,” Ward said. “It’s my job to come up with that big
save with 10 seconds left – and fortunately I was able to.”