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game recap

Hurricanes move within five points of wild card

Defeat Canadiens, who have one-point lead on Senators in Atlantic Division

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com Correspondent

MONTREAL -- The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 at Bell Centre on Thursday to move closer to a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with their sixth win during a nine-game point streak.

Lee Stempniak scored two goals, Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist, and Eddie Lack made 21 saves for Carolina (32-27-13), which trails the Boston Bruins by five points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

On Feb. 24, the Hurricanes were 24-24-8, last in the Eastern Conference and 12 points behind the Bruins, New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs in the race for the second wild card. They are 8-3-5 since.

 

WATCH: All Hurricanes vs. Canadiens highlights

 

"We're a confident group right now," Stempniak said. "We're getting contributions from a lot of guys, and I've been on the other side of it with Boston last year, where we were in first place with barely a month left and didn't make it. So there's a lot of hockey left and it's a fun time of year."

Carolina has 10 games remaining, two in hand on Boston, which lost 6-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. The Hurricanes are three points behind the Islanders and two points behind the Lightning.

Alex Galchenyuk scored his 16th goal for Montreal (41-24-9), which lost 2-1 in overtime to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. Carey Price made 19 saves.

"We faced a team that has been playing well lately, and they showed us why," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said.

Video: CAR@MTL: Lindholm finishes slick passing play for PPG

Montreal leads the Ottawa Senators by one point for first place in the Atlantic Division. Ottawa, which has a game in hand, defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in a shootout Thursday.

Hurricanes forward Elias Lindholm extended his point streak to nine games when he scored his 10th goal to tie the game 1-1 at 16:10 of the first period.

Stempniak put Carolina ahead 2-1 with 39 seconds left in the second period.

"There wasn't much going on offensively for us in the second," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "I thought we struggled to move the puck at times, and then obviously that's a big goal."

Stempniak increased the lead to 3-1 with his second goal of the game, 14th of the season, at 5:11 of the third.

Skinner scored into an empty net with 2:03 remaining to make it 4-1.

Galchenyuk, who was replaced by Phillip Danault as the center on Montreal's top line with left wing Max Pacioretty and right wing Alexander Radulov, started at left wing on a new line centered by Andrew Shaw with rookie Artturi Lehkonen on right wing.

Lehkonen and Shaw each got an assist on Galchenyuk's goal at 6:46 of the first period that gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead.

"I found Alex played a good game tonight," Julien said. "He had good chances aside from his goal, he seemed comfortable. But it's a player who accepted moving from center to the wing and responded very well. That's what we're looking for from a player."

Video: CAR@MTL: Galchenyuk buries Shaw's feed

 

Goal of the game

Stempniak scored his first goal with a backhand shot from the top of the slot that struck Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin's skate and deflected up past Price into the left corner.

Video: CAR@MTL: Stempniak banks a backhander past Price

 

Save of the game

Hurricanes forward Derek Ryan sprawled to the ice and blocked Galchenyuk's shot with his right arm while sliding through the crease at 3:48 of the first period after Lack gave up a rebound on a shot by defenseman Jeff Petry.

Video: CAR@MTL: Lack, Ryan each deny big chances

 

Highlight of the game

Skinner showed patience with the puck to set up Stempniak's second goal of the game. Stempniak drove to the net uncovered and tapped in Skinner's pass from the left side.

Video: CAR@MTL: Stempniak nets his second goal of the game

 

Unsung performance of the game

Hurricanes center Jordan Staal won 15 of 19 faceoffs (79.0 percent) and had two hits.

 

They said it

"There's definitely a good feeling when you're on a little bit of a run, but I think that comes from working hard and doing things right. And usually when you do that, you get results that you can be proud of, and we want to keep trying to go after those." -- Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner

 

"Some nights you play pretty well but the other team got some bounces or they played a little bit better even if you gave a good effort. That wasn't the case tonight." -- Canadiens coach Claude Julien

 

"We like what we have in this room. You're not going to play 82 (games) perfectly, and the good thing is when you play games like this, you have a lot to learn from. And we have a lot to learn from." -- Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty

 

Need to know

Lindholm has 10 points (four goals, six assists) during his point streak. … Skinner has six goals during a four-game goal streak and eight points (six goals, two assists) during a five-game point streak. ... Galchenyuk's goal was his first in 10 games since a three-game goal streak from Feb. 25-28 that included an overtime goal in consecutive games.

 

What's next

Hurricanes: At the New Jersey Devils on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+ 2, FS-CR, NHL.TV)

Canadiens: Host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Stempniak, Lack power Canes past Habs, 4-1

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