RALEIGH, N.C. - Carolina's power-play unit looked sloppy Tuesday night, repeatedly fumbling the puck away when it got the man advantage.
Fortunately for the Hurricanes, the Montreal Canadiens gave them enough practice to get it right.
Eric Staal scored two power-play goals and Carolina took advantage of the penalty-prone Canadiens for a 3-2 victory.
"We didn't start as well as we would've liked to on the power play," said Carolina associate head coach Ron Francis, who filled in for head coach Paul Maurice in the interview room. "We ended up scoring some goals that weren't exactly pretty, but at the end of the day, we scored three goals on the power play and we won the hockey game. That's what matters."
Joe Corvo added another power-play goal and Sergei Samsonov had two assists for the Hurricanes, who snapped a two-game skid. Cam Ward made 22 saves, including one on a point-blank chance by Montreal's Alex Kovalev with 10 seconds remaining.
"For the most part, we were on the power play so much they didn't really have many quality opportunities until the third period," Ward said. "It's my job to come up with that big save with 10 seconds left, and fortunately I was able to."
Kovalev scored a short-handed goal for the Canadiens and Guillaume Latendresse connected on a penalty shot.
The Canadiens were called for 11 of the game's first 12 penalties. With Carolina's first penalty resulting in Latendresse's penalty shot, the Hurricanes had the first 11 power plays, including four two-man advantages. Carolina's 11 power plays were their most this season, and were also a season high for a Montreal opponent.
"When we're moving our feet and their stick's in the air, that's the way the game's called now," Staal said. "They're going to call them. A lot of them were hooks and trips and there's not much a ref can do but call a penalty."
The Canadiens, who have lost three in a row, finished the game with one power play.
"I really don't want to talk about it," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said about the discrepancy. "You guys saw the game. You can write or say whatever you want to say about it. I'd rather not talk about it."
Staal got things started in the first period by finishing off a nice pass from Samsonov, who left Staal with an open net after a 2-on-1 down low.
With a little more than two minutes remaining in the period, Staal added his second goal when Joni Pitkanen's pass from the left circle went off Staal's skate in the crease and past Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak.
Staal has scored five times in Carolina's last four games.
Montreal tied it early in the second.
Latendresse split the Carolina defence for a breakaway and was slashed from behind by defenceman Brett Carson. Latendresse slapped the puck past Ward's glove on the ensuing penalty shot.
A little more than a minute later, Montreal's Robert Lang won a faceoff in the Hurricanes zone and fed the puck to Kovalev, who snapped it past Ward's glove for a short-handed goal 3:57 into the period. It was Kovalev's first goal in 19 games.
"It's definitely nice to get one, but it would have been even nicer if it had won the game," Kovalev said.
With Montreal's Roman Hamrlik and Ryan O'Bryne in the penalty box a little more than three minutes later, Corvo ripped a shot from just inside the blue line that eluded Halak.
The Canadiens came close to tying the score when Andrei Markov batted a rebound out of the air and into the Carolina net with 8:23 left in the second period. But the referees ruled that Markov's stick was above the crossbar, a verdict that was confirmed on video review.
Notes: Montreal goalie Carey Price and forward Saku Koivu missed their second straight games with lower body injuries. ... Carolina had as many power plays (five) as shots in the first period. ... Carolina's Ray Whitney had his five-game point streak snapped. ... Hamrlik knocked Staal headfirst into the boards in the second period, prompting a brief melee. After staying down for a couple of moments, Staal didn't miss a shift.