A penny for your thoughts: Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau watches the action behind captain Saku Koivu, Guillaume Latendresse and Kyle Chipchura.
Shaun Best, Reuters
Links updated Sunday 10:30 a.m. ET
Early in the third period, you started checking the NHL rulebook to see whether there’s a mercy rule. Sadly, there isn’t.
The Carolina Hurricanes rolled effortlessly over the Canadiens last night, the 5-1 victory their ninth in a row at the Bell Centre. Nine.
This remarkable winning/losing streak dates to Feb. 28, 2004; in this stretch, Carolina has outscored the home team 35-13, and now is 13-4-1 against Montreal since the 2004-05 lockout, including four victories in the opening round of the 2006 playoffs en route to winning the Stanley Cup.
The Canadiens dropped their fifth straight game at home last night, and it was a depressingly bad exhibition by a team that seems entirely without a rudder. This streak of "friendly" ice futility is the team’s worst since October-November 2000.
It marked the fourth and final meeting between the two clubs this season, after having met three times in October. The Canadiens won two of those, outscoring the Hurricanes 11-9.
Carolina led last night’s "contest" 2-0 by 12:13 of the first period on goals by Erik Cole and Eric Staal before Andrei Kostitsyn converted a short second-period Alex Kovalev pass from goalie Cam Ward’s doorstep to cut the margin in half, a power-play score midway through the frame.
But the Hurricanes beat Montreal goalie Carey Price with two more before the second was done, first by ageless Rod Brind’Amour, then Ray Whitney’s back-breaker at 19:26, four seconds after captain Saku Koivu was penalized for high-sticking, to put this one decidedly out of reach after 40 minutes.
Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau pulled Price after the second, his rookie netminder having a wholly ordinary game, and inserted recent AHL callup Jaroslav Halak, who’s filling in for the groin-injured Cristobal Huet.
Whitney made it 5-1 at 6:28 of the third on a shot that totally fooled Halak and found the net through his pads.
A 5-on-3 advantage of 92 seconds for the Canadiens late in the third yielded nothing but more frustration and heckling from those who decided to keep their seats until the end.
The final shots were even at 36-36, not that this statistic mattered for much.
The Canadiens are home to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers on Thursday then return to face the Toronto Maple Leafs next Saturday.