After ending their worst loosing streak of the season the Habs skated into Raleigh looking for another win and the opportunity to solidify their playoff position. Carolina had other plans in mind however, as they were looking to gain ground on the eighth and final playoff spot in the east. The Hurricanes came out strong and attacked Carey Price’s net right from the get go. This forced Price to make multiple saves from close range on Eric Staal and Jussi Jokinen. Price slowed things down by freezing the puck allowing his teammates to reply with an attack of their own on the next shift. Cam ward was equal to the task as he made a huge save on Michael Cammalleri followed by two more on Scott Gomez and James Wisniewski. The Goalies continued to steal the show for the first half of the period as both teams exchanged chances searching for the all important first goal.
At 11:01, Montreal’s defense broke down in their zone as they could not get a handle on the puck. Carolina took advantage of this when Jeff Skinner jumped on the loose puck and riffled it past Price to give his team the 1-0 edge. The Habs attempted to answer but again Ward was ready for the shots that came from Ryan White and Tomas Plekanec. The Habs seemed desperate to get the tying goal and that led to another defensive gaffe when they turned the puck over along their own blue line. Skinner was once again the benefactor of this break down as he skated in and made a couple of nice moves before beating Price top corner. The Habs once again tried to reply, but they could not get the puck past Ward or failed to hit the net on multiple occasions. Carolina slowly controlled the play in the last few moments of the period and made sure they headed back to the dressing room up by two.
Montreal continued missing the net early in the second as they applied pressure in Carolina’s zone. On the next shift Price robbed Erik Cole from in close to give his team a chance. David Desharnais then found Benoit Pouliot who took a good shot but Ward was ready again. The Habs kept pressing leading to Carolina taking a tripping penalty for an early power play. The Habs finally broke their recent funk on the power play when Wisniewski made a pass to Cammalleri from the point. Cammalleri then moved the puck from the back of his stick to the front before beating Ward between his pad and trapper. Less than a minute later Montreal collapsed in their own zone again allowing Jamie McBain to slap one past Price who was screened and caught looking the wrong way.
A couple of minute’s later Habs fans got a bit of a scare when P.K. Subban seemed to pull something in his neck or back while chasing a loose puck in front of Price. This led to yet another defensive breakdown allowing Joni Pitkanen to feast on the scraps for a 4-1 lead. After the goal Jacque Martin decided he had seen enough and called his time out. The time out didn’t seem to do much as the Habs continued to look disorganized forcing Price to make more saves in the process. The one piece of good news was that Subban returned to the ice and not a moment too soon as he took away a cross ice pass to prevent another goal. After Carolina missed the net on a 4 on 2 rush, Ward was finally tested when he made saves on Andrei Kostitsyn, Pouliot, Brian Gionta and Wisniewski.
After being frustrated by Ward the Habs got called for hooking giving Carolina more momentum. The Habs corrected their mistake as they did a nice job of killing this one off. Even though the power play failed Carolina kept coming putting Price under siege. Even Price seemed to be exhausted by their attack as he looked behind him when he made a save on Jokinen. Plekanec tried to get another goal for his team in the last minute but it was not meant to be as he hit the post with his second shot leaving the Habs with a big mountain to climb in the third.
Martin decided that now was a good time to give Price a rest as he opted to use Alex Auld for the third. It did not take long for Auld to be tested as Drayson Bowman went for an early wrap around. The puck bounced in front of Auld in his crease but he managed to freeze it to stop play. The Habs started to answer back entering the Hurricanes zone. After dumping the puck Gill got hit by Tuomo Ruutu causing the side glass to shatter. Play was stopped and it took several minutes to change the glass. The delay broke the games rhythm a bit as both teams struggled to move the puck out of the neutral zone.
At 4:44, Staal got called for hooking sending the Habs to the power play. The Habs had a few opportunities but just could not connect with the puck on the scrambled plays. Montreal continued to attack and watched Ward continue to make the saves. Moments later Gionta streaked in on a mini breakaway but was slashed by Staal while heading to the net. Montreal wasted no time on this power play as Subban blasted one past Ward from the point to cut the lead in half. Carolina replied, with Skinner once again buzzing in the Habs zone looking for a hat trick. His hard work led to a Subban penalty putting his team up by a man. The Habs once again weathered the power play and did not allow a goal while on the kill.
Montreal continued to press looking for another goal, Ward kept making the saves and with too many players in the offensive zone, the Habs gave up a 3 on 1 going the other way. McBain controlled the puck entering the zone and then beat Auld after faking the pass. With the score now 5-2 the Habs bad luck continued when Jeff Halpern crashed into Ward’s net. Mathieu Darche saw an opportunity to beat Ward as he was down on the play but his shot hit Haplern and stayed out. Things got a little dicey a few moments later when Gill made a late hit. This caused Montreal to go back on the kill and while on the kill they had another one coming. This is when Cory Stillman made it 6-2 for the Hurricanes and eliminated the first penalty to avoid the 5 on 3 power play. This allowed Carolina to ice the game as they controlled the puck the rest of the way and moved two points closer to a playoff spot.
HiD Three Stars
- Jeff Skinner
- Cam Ward
- Jamie McBain
HiD Turning Point
Montreal’s defensive breakdowns left Price under siege.