RALEIGH, N.C. — Carey Price was back in top form, making 42 saves as the Canadiens rallied in the third period to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 Thursday night at PNC Arena. Lars Eller snapped a 2-2 tie when he went to the net and converted a pass from Josh Gorges at 6:11. Eller also collected an assist on P.K. Subban’s power-play goal at 7:56.
Still No. 1: The victory allowed the Canadiens to maintain their hold on first place in the Eastern Conference, but the Boston Bruins defeated Toronto to remain one point back in the Northeast Division with three games in hand.
What happened?: It would be a mistake to say the Canadiens got caught up in a run-and-gun game in the second period because the Hurricanes did all the running and gunning. They outshot Montreal 21-5 and scored twice to tie the game at 2-2. The Hurricanes had an 11-0 shot advantage to open the period and were rewarded when Jordan Staal scored at 6:07. Drayson Bowman tied it at 10:27 with an assist to Jeremy Welsh. It was the first NHL point for Welsh, who was called up from Charlotte earlier in the day.
Changing up: Yannick Weber played his first game since Jan. 27 and it may be a while before he plays another one. Weber, who replaced Tomas Kaberle on defence, had a blind clearing pass picked off and that led to Carolina’s second goal. He also provided Eric Staal with an opportunity when he misplayed the puck at the point. Weber set off in pursuit of Staal, who was awarded a penalty shot when Weber hooked him. Weber was let off the hook for that miscue when Staal failed to beat Price. Weber left the game late in the second period with what was described as a lower-body injury.
Opening act: Brandon Prust seems to enjoy playing against the Hurricanes. He opened the scoring in the Canadiens’ 3-0 home win over Carolina Feb. 9 and he delivered the first goal in Carolina Thursday night when he scored on the rebound of Alexei Emelin’s shot from the point at 3:22 of the first period. Prust also assisted on the second goal, finding Gorges in front after taking a stretch pass from Subban, and he picked up the second assist on Eller’s game-winner.
Streaking Subban: With an assist in the first period and a power-play goal in the third, Subban extended his points streak to five games. He has three goals and four assists in the streak.
What’s next: The Canadiens wrap up the five-game road trip with back-to-back games Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Sunday against the Florida Panthers. They are back at the Bell Centre Wednesday against the New Jersey Devils.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette