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Hurricanes 7, Canadiens 3 @NHLdotcom

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Carolina Hurricanes are apparently so accustomed to winning these days that even one loss is enough to get their attention.

Eric Staal and Justin Williams each had a goal and two assists to help the Hurricanes beat the Montreal Canadiens 7-3 on Monday night, giving them their eighth straight home victory and a strong bounceback effort after a loss at Washington.

Andrew Ladd and Erik Cole each added a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes, who had won a franchise-record nine straight - their second such streak of the season - before that 5-2 loss in Washington on Saturday night. But they followed that with a strong all-around effort that included what seemed to be an endless stream of players finding the net against a road-weary Montreal squad.

``It was important for us to snap back right away,'' Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. ``I think you could get a sense in the locker room that the guys were ready to play.''

The Hurricanes certainly looked that way, with seven players scoring goals and nine finishing with at least one assist. Bret Hedican and Craig Adams each scored first-period goals for the early lead, and Staal and Matt Cullen scored power-play goals less than a minute apart in the second period.

Carolina never let up from there, getting goals from Ladd, Williams and Cole to turn the game into a laugher.

Cam Ward was solid in net for the Hurricanes, making 31 saves and surrendering two meaningless goals in the final 4 minutes. Of course, considering the way the Hurricanes kept putting pucks past Jose Theodore, Ward didn't need to do much to earn the win.

The Hurricanes haven't lost at home since falling 4-3 in overtime to Philadelphia on Dec. 29, and haven't lost in regulation in Raleigh since a 5-2 loss to Atlanta on Nov. 27. It's a big reason why the Hurricanes are tied with Ottawa with an NHL-best 70 points.

``We had everyone playing out there, every line was going,'' said Staal, who tallied his 31st goal and 33rd assist of the season. ``That's when we're at our best and our team's playing at its best. We need to have that every game.''

On the other side, it was just the latest in a growing pile of road setbacks for the Canadiens, who have lost seven straight away from home and 16 of their past 17.

Tomas Plekanec had two goals and an assist after being called up from Hamilton of the American Hockey League, while Francis Bouillon also had a goal. But the Canadiens have lost the first three games of a six-game road swing and fell to 2-3 since general manager Bob Gainey took over for fired coach Claude Julien.

Things won't get any easier, with Montreal next heading to Eastern Conference powers Philadelphia and Ottawa.

This one quickly took on a familiar feel for the Canadiens, who allowed six first-period goals in a humbling loss to Vancouver over the weekend. The Hurricanes chased Theodore from the net after scoring five goals on 18 shots in the first two periods, marking his second straight early exit.

``We had a good start and things were going well,'' said center Steve Begin, who assisted on Plekanec's first goal. ``And suddenly we just gave up and didn't stick with the game plan. ... It's 60 minutes. If you quit after five minutes, the game's over.''

Montreal pulled to 2-1 when Plekanec beat Ward on a breakaway early in the second, but Carolina answered a few minutes later on a 5-on-3 power play. Cullen redirected Staal's shot past Theodore for the 3-1 lead at 6:07, and Staal increased the lead less than a minute later with a terrific individual effort on the man advantage.

Staal brought the puck to the center with Niklas Sundstrom trailing and poking at him with his stick. Staal nearly stumbled, but gathered himself and fired the straightaway shot by Theodore at 6:56.

Once Ladd scored after Theodore fell during a scramble in the crease for the 5-1 lead, Gainey pulled the netminder in favor of Cristobal Huet about 9 minutes into the period.

Notes: Carolina left winger Cory Stillman missed his third straight game because of a torso injury and is day-to-day. ... Carolina defenseman Mike Commodore left in the third period with a lower-body injury and did not return. ... Carolina rookie Keith Aucoin earned his first NHL point with an assist on Cole's third-period goal. ... The Canadiens claimed forward Aaron Downey off waivers from St. Louis on Monday.

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