Montreal got more bad news when it was announced that No. 1 goalie Cristobal Huet, hurt Wednesday in New Jersey, will undergo surgery on a left hamstring injury on Sunday and will be out indefinitely.
Second goalie David Aebischer was not at his sharpest as the Hurricanes (30-24-7) were outshot 45-32 by a Canadiens team that continues to fire blanks on attack, which drew sustained booing in the third period from the Bell Centre's 21,273 disgruntled spectators.
Chad Larose had a short-handed goal, while Erik Cole and Eric Staal added insurance markers for Carolina, which has won four of its last six.
Sheldon Souray, with his team-leading 20th, and Radek Bonk scored for Montreal (29-25-6), which has fallen out of playoff position in the Eastern Conference while going 8-17-1 since Dec. 23. Montreal had not lost six in a row since November, 2000.
And Tomas Plekanec had a goal on a penalty shot with 53 seconds left in the game, using the Peter Forsberg reach-back move to beat Cam Ward.
Souray is the first Canadiens defenceman with 20 goals since Mathieu Schneider and Chris Chelios had that number in 1993-94 and 1987-88 respectively. The team record is 28 by Guy Lapointe in 1974-75.
The Canadiens, with hard-working rookie Duncan Milroy making his NHL debut on right wing, looked determined to end their slump as they outshot the 'Canes 18-7 in the opening period and took a 1-0 lead.
Montreal had an extra attacker on a delayed penalty when Souray's point blast beat Cam Ward at 16:36.
But Michael Ryder was called for hooking only five seconds into the second frame and Brind'Amour jumped on a good bounce at the side of the net and tucked it behind Aebischer at 1:18.
A blind back-pass at the Hurricanes' blue-line by Souray sent Craig Adams in for a short-handed shot that went off Aebischer's shoulder and was bunted into the net by Larose at 11:30.
Bonk went to the net to redirect Steve Begin's pass and tie the game at 12:43.
But Brind'Amour was on the doorstep again as Aebischer was slow to get up after making a stop and lifted one in with only 10 seconds left in the period.
Carolina had sustained pressure when Cole potted his 25th at 12:42 of the third frame and Staal got another at 18:40.
The Canadiens have a short turnaround before playing at Columbus in a 6 p.m. ET start on Sunday, when Friday call-up Jaroslav Halak may get his first NHL start. The Hurricanes returned home to play Atlanta on Tuesday.
Notes - Cole returned to Carolina's lineup after missing three games with a lower body injury. RW Justin Williams and D Bret Hedican, who both left a game Thursday with minor injuries, were back in the lineup. . . LW Cory Stillman (knee) remains out of action. . . D Craig Rivet (pneumonia) and RW Alex Kovalev (sore elbow) remain sidelined for Montreal. . . RW Aaron Downey, LW Garth Murray and D Janne Niinimaa were healthy scratches.