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Brind'Amour scores twice as Hurricanes hand Habs 5-3 defeat

Brind'Amour scored two power-play goals to reach 400 for his career as the Carolina Hurricanes extended the Canadiens' losing run to six games with a 5-3 NHL victory on Saturday night.

And 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.

Brind'Amour's two points also moved him into a tie for 60th place all-time in NHL scoring with Canadiens Hall of Famer Henri Richard with 1,046.

"That's a huge name you mentioned," said 36-year-old Brind'Amour, an 18-year NHL veteran. "It's one of those things you can be proud of when you're done playing."

Chad Larose scored shorthanded and Erik Cole and Eric Staal also scored for Carolina (30-24-7), which including playoffs has won its last seven games at the Bell Centre.

Sheldon Souray, with his team-leading 20th, Radek Bonk and Tomas Plekanec, on a penalty shot, replied for Montreal (29-25-6).

The defending Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes held on to seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

The Canadiens have dropped from fourth place to ninth while going 8-17-1 since Dec. 23. Montreal had not lost six in a row since November, 2000.

They will try to snap out of it on Sunday evening in Columbus, where Friday call-up Jaroslav Halak will get his first NHL start in goal.

"We're at the point where we're going to try things," coach Guy Carbonneau said of putting the 21-year-old Halak in goal. "Let's see what he can do."

Second goalie David Aebischer was not at his sharpest as the Hurricanes (30-24-7) were outshot 45-32.

The Canadiens continued to fire blanks on attack and drew sustained booing in the third period from the Bell Centre's 21,273 disgruntled spectators.

Carbonneau said the effort was there, but not the result.

"There's nothing to be happy about - everybody wants to win," he said. "They've got pride.

"But we have to start somewhere. For a week now, we've been playing as a team and hopefully, at some point, we'll win. We talked this week about recreating our identity and I think we're on the way."

Huet is likely gone for the long term, although he said while leaving the Bell Centre he will only know once the surgery is completed.

"It's never easy when you lose a player of that calibre for that period - especially now when we need everybody," said Carbonneau. "But I always felt that if you have 20 guys dressed, you have a chance to win and I still think that."

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 shorthanded 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 for his 25th at 18:47.

Plekanec was hooked on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. He used the Peter Forsberg reach-back move to beat Ward for his 13th goal of the season.

A week ago, a loss to Ottawa promoted a players-only meeting. Not this time.

"We've had so many discussions and meetings that haven't borne fruit yet, so the time for talking is over," said winger Mike Johnson. "It's time for action."

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.


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