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Canadiens please home fans, shut out Hurricanes

by Arpon Basu

MONTREAL -- The city of Montreal can exhale.

Carey Price made 36 saves for his third shutout of the season, and Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty each had a goal and an assist when the Montreal Canadiens took advantage of the weary Carolina Hurricanes to snap a four-game losing streak with a 3-0 win Tuesday.

The Canadiens (28-20-5) scored their three goals on 12 shots in 21:41, better than their total of two goals on 76 shots in the previous three games combined.

Price's shutout snapped a streak of six straight games when the Canadiens allowed at least four goals, and it was the fourth time in their past 14 games they allowed fewer than that.

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

While the city around them was seemingly in full panic mode, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien and his staff held a practice Monday accentuating the positive. It appeared to work.

"I really believe attitude is very important, how you're going to face adversity," Therrien said. "We decided to stay positive as a coaching staff with our players and make sure that inside our hockey team there was no sign of panic, to show all together we had confidence in the group."

It was the Canadiens' most solid effort in two weeks, ending a stretch in which they were outscored 19-5 in losing four straight games.

That being said, Price still needed to be sharp with the Hurricanes earning a number of high-quality scoring chances, and he got some help -- the Canadiens blocked 27 shots and the Hurricanes hit two posts.

Price sealed his first shutout since Dec. 14 with a breakaway save on Manny Malhotra with a little more than five minutes remaining.

"He's bailed us out a lot lately," Gallagher said of Price. "He played an awesome game, and we're pretty lucky to have him."

Anton Khudobin made 27 saves for the Hurricanes (24-20-9), who had a four-game winning streak end and lost for the fourth time in 14 games.

Carolina won 3-2 at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets before arriving here late Monday night. The game Tuesday was Carolina's fifth in a span of seven nights, a situation created when a Jan. 21 game at the Philadelphia Flyers had to be postponed a day because of a snowstorm.

"We seemed to be out of gas a little bit. You never want to use that as an excuse, but we have played a lot of hockey here," Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said. "If we were really feeling good and jumping we would have had a little bit better of an attack. But when we did get chances, Price was real good, he made a lot of key saves.

"I felt like if we got one we could maybe make them tense up a little bit, but unfortunately we weren't able to. Carey was keeping them out."

The Hurricanes came in as one of the hottest teams in the NHL offensively, scoring at least three goals in six straight games. Staal (2-5-7) and Alexander Semin (6-2-8) each had a five-game point streak end, and linemate Jiri Tlusty had a good idea why that happened.

"We couldn't break the wall in their net," Tlusty said.

Brandon Prust opened the scoring at 6:11 of the first period when he completed a nice passing play from Rene Bourque and Josh Gorges for his fifth of the season.

Gallagher made it 2-0 at 18:44 of the first when he came out from behind the net on a wraparound attempt, then jammed it in off the scrum for his 14th of the season and third in five games.

Pacioretty completed the scoring at 1:41 of the second when Andrei Markov picked up a Gallagher rebound and found Pacioretty alone in front for a tap in, his team-leading 22nd goal of the season.

After being booed off the ice and having their shots on goal sarcastically cheered in their previous home game Saturday, a 5-0 loss to the Washington Capitals, the Canadiens gathered at center ice following the victory to receive a loud ovation from the Bell Centre fans.

"It's definitely a step in the right direction, it's something to build on," Price said. "But we can't get complacent."

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