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Motivated Montreal shuts out Carolina

The SportsXchange

MONTREAL -- The struggling Montreal Canadiens were rested, ready and very motivated to take on an opponent that was playing for a second night in a row to squeeze in its fifth game in a week.

Montreal goaltender Carey Price made 36 saves for his third shutout, left winger Max Pacioretty and right winger Brendan Gallagher each had a goal and an assist, and the Canadiens ended a season-high four-game losing streak with a 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

Right winger Brandon Prust scored 6:11 into the first period for Montreal, which lost 5-0 to Washington on Saturday in the midst of a 4-7-2 skid.

Price, who was pulled for the second time in three games Saturday, recorded his 22nd career shutout.

"I think as a group we knew what we needed to do," Price said. "There's no question that we've talked about it enough and it was time to do it, and tonight it all came together."

Price made back-to-back right-pad saves on a short-handed 2-on-1 for the Hurricanes after the Prust goal, stopping left winger Drayson Bowman's initial shot before denying center Jordan Staal's attempt on the rebound.

"We needed that one break, that one bounce or that one opportunity," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "We knew they were a team that was struggling lately, but they had a day off, they had meetings and all that, they were ready to play so we were just hoping to get that first one tonight, or that one opportunity. It didn't happen so that was a big missed opportunity for us really."

Goaltender Anton Khudobin stopped 27 shots for Carolina, whose winning streak ended at four games.

The Hurricanes, who played their fifth game in the past seven days, fell short of matching a season-high five-game streak from Dec. 31-Jan. 9 that began with a 5-4 overtime win against Montreal on New Year's Eve.

"I think if we were really feeling good and jumping we would have had maybe a little bit better of an attack, but when we did get chances Price was really good," Carolina captain Eric Staal said. "I thought he made a lot of key saves. It felt like if we got one we could maybe make him tense up a little bit, but unfortunately we weren't able to and Carey was keeping 'em out."

Prust opened the scoring with his fifth goal when he moved into the slot to fire a shot past Khudobin to complete a fine passing play with defenseman Josh Gorges and left winger Rene Bourque.

Gallagher made it 2-0 after he jammed away at a puck in the goalmouth to get it past Khudobin for his third goal in five games. Pacioretty got an assist on Gallagher's 14th goal, which came at 18:44 of the opening period.

Pacioretty made it a three-goal lead with his team-leading 22nd goal 1:41 into the second period. Gallagher got his 12th assist and defenseman Andrei Markov got his 22nd after Pacioretty put the Russian veteran's centering pass into an open left side for his first goal in five games.

"We just made the right plays," Pacioretty said. "Our goal is to wear teams down and we knew they played (Monday) night, and once we get pucks behind them and wear them down and play them in their end, I think we were able to find success that way. We have to find a way to play like that for 60 minutes and we did a pretty good job of that."

NOTES: Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller won the Stanley Cup as a player with Montreal in 1993. He was an assistant coach with the Canadiens when they reached the Eastern Conference final in 2010. ... Carolina RW Alexander Semin entered the game with a season-high six-game points streak that included six goals and three assists. ... Hurricanes captain Eric Staal also entered with a six-game points streak. He had four goals and five assists during the streak and was looking to match his season-high seven-game streak set from Nov. 15-27. ...The Canadiens sent RW Louis Leblanc to AHL Hamilton on Tuesday. Leblanc has no points in eight games with Montreal this season, including the Canadiens' previous three games. ... Montreal RW George Parros was in the lineup after being left out for the previous three games. ... Canadiens D Francis Bouillon and D Raphael Diaz were healthy scratches.
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