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Canadiens can't hold off Hurricanes

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Habs suffer first home loss after three straight victories

Richard Zednik scored his 12th goal of the season in his return to the lineup.

MONTREAL - The Canadiens saw their three-game home-ice winning streak snapped following an 8-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

Montreal (23-21-6) suffered its first home-ice loss since downing Dallas and San Jose upon Bob Gainey's changes behind the bench on Jan. 14. The Hurricanes (37-11-4) widened their lead atop the NHL overall standings, as they ended the month of January with a 13-1-0 mark.

Erik Cole led the way for the Hurricanes with three goals and one assist. Also scoring goals for Carolina were Eric Staal (2), Craig Adams, Kevyn Adams and Niklas Nordgen. The win was Carolina's first at the Bell Centre since Nov. 23, 2002.

The Hurricanes' second-ranked power-play went 3-for-6 with two of those coming with a two-man advantage, while the Canadiens were 0-for-5 with the extra man.

While there may still be over two months left in the regular season, career benchmarks continue to be shattered across the NHL. Fresh off having surpassed his personal-best with his 16th point of the season just last week in Carolina, Begin was at it again tonight against the Hurricanes. The rugged centerman, who had scored 21 goals over his entire career heading into 2005-06, converted a slick pass from Mike Ribeiro on a 2-on-1 for his 11th goal of the season. With that first period goal, Begin eclipsed his previous mark of 10 set during his first season with the Canadiens in 2003-04.

In his return to the lineup after sitting out Saturday's game against the Maple Leafs, Richard Zednik, who had not tallied since Dec. 28 in Tampa Bay, ended his dry spell in the opening period. In the midst of heavy traffic around the Carolina net, Zednik managed to muscle a puck past Martin Gerber for his 12th goal of the season. 

Gerber shut the door the rest of the way to move into a tie with Dominik Hasek for first in total wins overall in the Eastern Conference with 26.  He ended the night with 32 saves, while Jose Theodore and Cristobal Huet shared the goaltending duties for the Canadiens, turning aside five of 10 shots and 13-of-16, respectively.

Next up for the Canadiens is a home-and-home series against the Bruins beginning Thursday in Boston and wrapping up with a matinee match-up at noon Saturday at the Bell Centre.

NOTES : C Radek Bonk, LW Raitis Ivanans and D Mark Streit  did not dress... With his assist on Zednik's goal, D Sheldon Souray picked up his 100th NHL point in his 393rd career game... Tuesday night's game against the Hurricanes drew a capacity crowd of 21,273, marking the Canadiens' 23rd consecutive sellout of the season and 46th straight overall packed house dating back to 2003-04... The Hurricanes are now 26-1-0 when scoring first this season...

Manny Almela is a writer for

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