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Hurricanes 3, Canadiens 2 @NHLdotcom

MONTREAL (AP) - Rod Brind'Amour has restored the Carolina Hurricanes' home-ice advantage with persistence and skill.

The Hurricanes captain scored 5:54 into the third period to give Carolina a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens that tied the first-round playoff series on Friday night.

The second-seeded Hurricanes, who won despite blowing an early 2-0 lead, dropped the first two games of the best-of-seven series at home but swept two straight in Montreal. Game 5 of the Eastern Conference matchup will be Sunday night at Carolina.

"We know what we're supposed to be doing and you don't magically come up with a new plan," Brind'Amour said. "It's execution. At the end of the day, either your goalie stands on his head or you had better execution, and I think we had better execution."

Brind'Amour, who has four goals in three games, made his third scoring opportunity of the night the charm for Carolina as he jumped on a loose puck behind Cristobal Huet and banked a shot in off the Montreal goalie.

"He's definitely our leader," said rookie Cam Ward, who made 23 saves in his second straight start for the Hurricanes after replacing Martin Gerber midway through Game 2. "It's just great to see his hard work paying off because he puts a lot of effort into this team."

Huet made a sensational pad save to deny the Brind'Amour on a short-handed breakaway in the second period before the forward had an apparent go-ahead goal disallowed later in the frame.

"I think we all tried, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to make it a tight game after the second," Huet said. "We gave a lot in that game and it was close, but they capitalized first in the third. After that they played well defensively and it was tough even to get a shot."

Justin Williams - whose unpenalized high-stick in Game 3 forced Canadiens captain Saku Koivu to be hospitalized with an eye injury - had a goal and assist on both Hurricanes goals in the first period. Carolina scored twice within 1:11 midway through the penalty-free period to jump out to a 2-0 lead.

"I had to definitely refocus, and focus on the game at hand because that was what was really important tonight," said Williams, who was shaken by Wednesday's hit and called Koivu the following day. "We had to get a big win in Montreal, which is a tough thing to do most of the time."

The Canadiens scored three goals in the two home losses after scoring 13 times in the two series-opening wins.

"The other night we had lots of great scoring chances and we didn't complete them, but tonight the scoring chances were minimized so we'll be looking for ways to penetrate the defenses of Carolina and to get some of our players participating and getting some results on the Carolina side of center ice," Canadiens coach Bob Gainey said.

Montreal rookie Alexander Perezhogin scored his first career playoff goal 5:21 into the second to make it 2-1.

Brind'Amour came close to restoring the Hurricanes' two-goal lead when he drove in on Huet right after Hurricanes defenseman Bret Hedican was given a double minor for high sticking to put Carolina down two players.

Huet stuck out his left pad to deny the short-handed scoring chance, and Canadiens defenseman Sheldon Souray took advantage of the 5-on-3. He scored his second of the series on a 40-foot slap shot at 12:58 to tie it at 2 and bring the crowd back to life.

Brind'Amour appeared to score the go-ahead goal for Carolina 18:38 into the second. Brind'Amour was in the crease when he put in the rebound, and referee Don VanMassenhoven immediately pointed to the net from behind to indicate a goal.

Stationed at the blue line, referee Tim Peel had blown his whistle before the puck crossed the line and waved off the goal. That prompted an animated argument from Brind'Amour and the rest of the Hurricanes.

"I was standing there and he pointed, 'Goal! Goal! Goal!' and then all of a sudden you hear a guy coming from the bleachers blowing it off," Brind'Amour said. "It was almost surreal."

Williams opened the scoring 10:22 in when he got credit for his first goal of the series after his shot hit the crossbar and bounced off Huet's back and into the net.

The Hurricanes right wing made a sensational play to set up Aaron Ward's goal at 11:33. Williams went down the left side and held the puck in front of Canadiens defenseman Craig Rivet before passing to Ward, who charged past Montreal right wing Michael Ryder and beat a sprawled Huet from a sharp angle. That put Carolina up by two and further silenced the sellout crowd.

Notes: Brind'Amour talked with VanMassenhoven again at the end of the second period while Hurricanes veterans Doug Weight and Hedican gathered by Peel. "I could talk to him," Brind'Amour said. "He's a veteran guy that's been around and is very approachable. He knew I was mad and he let me blow my steam then he explained that it wasn't his call." ... Brind'Amour has six goals in 10 career playoff games against Montreal. ... Ward has two goals in 57 career playoff games. ... D Mark Streit made his first career playoff appearance and played left wing on Montreal's fourth line.

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