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Ward and Hurricanes deal blow to Habs' playoff hopes with 2-1 victory @NHLdotcom

MONTREAL - Cam Ward kept the Hurricanes in it long enough to allow Eric Staal to score the winner in the third period, and Carolina hampered the Montreal Canadiens' playoff chances with a 2-1 victory Wednesday.

Brandon Sutter scored for a second straight game for the Hurricanes (33-35-9), who improved to 19-8-2 since Jan 21.

Marc Andre Bergeron scored on a power play for the Canadiens (37-32-8), who have one win in their last six games with a playoff spot hanging in the balance.

The Canadiens remained tied with idle Philadelphia and Boston at 82 points. Montreal is two points up on ninth-place Atlanta, but both the Flyers and Bruins now hold a game in hand.

Carolina continued its dominance in Montreal, improving to 10-0-2 in their last 12 games at the Bell Centre, including playoffs.

Ward, who returned from a back injury that cost him 19 games with a 26-save win on Monday, stopped 34 shots to improve to 10-3-2 in his career against the Canadiens. He was at his best in the first, stopping 11 of 12 shots, including several quality scoring chances.

Ward also made a game-saving pad stop on Brian Gionta with only 10 seconds to play in regulation.

It was yet another hard-luck loss for Canadiens goalie Carey Price, whose record dropped to 13-20-5 on the season despite stopping 25 of 27 shots. In his last six losses, the Canadiens have scored a total of eight goals.

Price was especially good in the third period, when Carolina outshot Montreal 17-10 but only managed to get one past him.

After being outplayed for much of the first 40 minutes, Carolina turned it on in the third, helped greatly by a boarding penalty to Mike Cammalleri at the 38-second mark.

Moments after the penalty expired, Erik Cole spun and shot one from the slot. Price made a skate save, but Staal was all alone on the doorstep to score his 24th of the year at 2:55 of the third.

The Canadiens thoroughly dominated the first period, outshooting Carolina 12-2, but only came out of it with a 1-0 lead.

Montreal had a two-man advantage for 40 seconds and just as the first penalty to former Hab Tom Kostopoulos came to an end, Scott Gomez found Bergeron for a one-timer at 8:04 of the first. It was Bergeron's 11th of the season and his seventh on the power play.

Canadiens winger Sergei Kostitsyn came away limping after taking a hit later in the period and did not return to the game with what the team called a lower body injury.

Carolina tied things up early in the second on a great play by Sutter. He skated into the Canadiens zone, walked around Roman Hamrlik and as he was getting tripped by Hamrlik flipped a shot on Price. Hamrlik slid into the crease and knocked the puck in just before knocking the net off.

The goal was originally waved off, but it was reversed on a video review to give Sutter his 20th of the year.

Notes: Canadian gold medal moguls skier Alexandre Bilodeau, silver medal mogul skier Jennifer Heil and freestyle ski coach Dominick Gauthier were presented to the Bell Centre crowd prior to the singing of the Canadian national anthem. They received a rousing standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 21,273...Glen Metropolit (shoulder) was out for Montreal while forwards Tom Pyatt and Ben Maxwell were scratched...Winger Tuomo Ruutu (shoulder), defenceman Tim Gleason (foot) and defenceman Alexandre Picard (upper body) were out for Carolina...Referee Kerry Fraser worked his final game in Montreal as he completes a career-ending tour of the Original Six cities. He will work the final game of his 27-year career on April 11 in New York...In the obscure stat category, with Sutter's 20th goal of the season he has a chance to become the first player since Toronto's Sergei Berezin in 1999-00 to score 20 goals and have only two penalty minutes in a season. Sutter must play penalty-free hockey the rest of the way to achieve the feat...

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