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Whitney scores twice to lead Hurricanes to easy 5-1 win over Habs

MONTREAL - Mike Komisarek hopes his Montreal Canadiens teammates get the message their fans are sending them.

Ray Whitney had two goals and an assist and Cam Ward made 35 saves as the Carolina Hurricanes handed the Canadiens their fifth straight loss on home ice by a 5-1 score Saturday night.

What was left of the sellout Bell Centre crowd of 21,273 booed their team off the ice for a third straight home game, and Komisarek hopes that feeling sticks with his teammates.

"It's got to turn around quick or we're going to find ourselves in the bottom of the standings fighting to get back in the playoff picture," Komisarek said. "If we can take away one thing tonight, we've got to remember that feeling of getting booed off the ice.

It's got to stick in our heads, because it's not something anyone in this locker room will want to experience again."

Erik Cole, Eric Staal and Rod Brind'Amour also scored for the Hurricanes (16-11-3), who have not lost at the Bell Centre in nine regular season and playoff games since the end of the lockout.

The Hurricanes have outscored the Canadiens 35-13 in those nine games.

Cole joked after the game that even he was trying to egg on the hostile Bell Centre crowd.

"Towards the end of the game I was booing from the penalty box for the fans, just trying to start something for them," he said. "We addressed it. You can get the crowd turned on them a little bit."

Andrei Kostitsyn got the lone goal for the Canadiens (14-11-4), who have only five wins in their last 14 games and are now 5-6-3 at home this season.

"We're a totally different team on the road than we are at home," Canadiens winger Chris Higgins said.

"It's so simple on the road, just chip it in and skate after it. But here, it seems like guys are taking shifts off. It should be the opposite, we should be having a better game at home and feeding off the energy in this building."

Canadiens rookie goaltender Carey Price, playing his third straight game while starter Cristobal Huet recovers from a groin injury, was lifted to start the third period after allowing four goals on 30 shots.

Jaroslav Halak stopped six of seven shots over the final 20 minutes in his first game of the season.

"I think he knows he needs to be better," Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau said of Price. "But he's a 20-year-old who's still learning a lot, and with that he's probably ahead of the curve. We knew there would be some ups and downs during the course of the year.

"Unfortunately, in the situation we are in right now, we need our goalies and everybody to play well."

The Hurricanes converted on both their power play opportunities while the Canadiens' top-ranked power play converted only once in six opportunities.

Montreal now has two goals in its last 24 power play chances.

The Canadiens were without forwards Steve Begin (shoulder) and Bryan Smolinski (knee), who were both hurt in Thursday's 4-2 win over the Bruins in Boston. That allowed struggling winger Michael Ryder, a healthy scratch in Boston, to get back in the lineup on the top line with Saku Koivu and Higgins. But the line was shut out, and Koivu now has only three assists in his last nine games while Ryder is pointless over the same stretch.

Asked if something was wrong with his captain, Carbonneau refused to call Koivu out.

"He works extremely hard in a game," he said. "He plays difficult minutes all the time, but he needs help around him. Michael Ryder tonight had five or six shot attempts but he had no shots on goal. Chris Higgins had a good start to the season but he's hit a bit of a lull. Every player needs help, you can't do it alone."

The injuries also meant defenceman Mark Streit moved up to forward on the fourth line, while Patrice Brisebois took his spot on defence after being scratched in Boston.

A neutral zone turnover created by Whitney led to Carolina opening the scoring, with Cole converting a nice saucer pass from Matt Cullen for his fifth of the season at 3:51 of the first.

The Canadiens looked to have tied it at 8:58 when Mark Streit banged home a loose puck in the Carolina crease, but the goal was disallowed because it was ruled he kicked it in after a video review.

The Hurricanes made it 2-0 at 12:13 with Alex Kovalev in the penalty box when Staal tipped in a slow Justin Williams point shot for his 15th of the season.

Carolina came within a second of going ahead 3-0 when Price lost the puck behind his net to Cory Stillman, who shot it in the empty net moments after the buzzer sounded to end the period.

Montreal lost defenceman Mike Komisarek for much of the second period when he was given an instigator penalty and a 10-minute misconduct in his fight with Scott Walker at 0:36. Walker was about to be called for boarding after hitting Komisarek into the boards from behind.

The Canadiens narrowed the gap to a goal on Kostitsyn's power play marker at 9:36 of the second, but the Hurricanes re-established their two goal lead just over two minutes later when Brind-Amour picked the top corner, stick side on Price at 11:46 to make it 3-1.

Whitney scored his first of the game on the power play at 19:26 of the second, beating Price with a low point shot, and then added his second at 6:28 of the third when his shot from the left circle got through Halak for his 14th of the year.

Notes: Begin suffered a separated left shoulder when he slammed into the end boards, while Smolinski hurt his right knee trying to avoid a hit. Both are out indefinitely Canadiens D Josh Gorges was a healthy scratch for a second straight gameHurricanes D Niclas Wallin was back in the lineup after missing two games with a shoulder injury. D Mike Commodore missed his seventh game with a broken finger, while winger Craig Adams and centre Jeff Hamilton were healthy scratchesCole's goal and assist gives him 13 goals and eight assists in 20 career games against the Canadiens, while Williams' two assists gives him six goals and 18 assists in 24 career games against Montreal.


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