Game 63: Canadiens weather Hurricanes’ storm

Roman Hamrlik and Alex Auld defend the net against the Hurricanes on Saturday night. Robert J. Galbraith, The Gazette

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AUDIO: Jacques Martin | Tomas Plekanec | Alex Auld | Brian Gionta | Mike Cammalleri | Brent Sopel

• At a Glance: The Canadiens gave themselves some breathing room in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night at the Bell Centre. The teams exchanged six goals in the first two periods, with three on either side. Jussi Jokinen opened the scoring when he took advantage of Alex Auld’s misdadventure behind the net to slide the puck into an open net. Auld started in the place of Carey Price, who was under the weather. The Canadiens would score twice before the end of the first period to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Michael Cammalleri scored for the second straight game at 13:48 of the period when his wrist shot whistled over Cam Ward’s shoulder. Andrei Kostistyn did the grunt word below the goal like and passed the puck to Lars Eller, who beat Ward at 16:53 for his fourth goal of the season. The Hurricanes tied the game 2:10 into the second period when Tuomo Ruutu redirected a puck behing Auld. Tomas Plekanec put the Canadiens up 3-2 when he used a Hurricanes defender to screen Ward to bead the goaltender with a wrist shot from the slot 5:13 into the period. Cory Stillman tied the game 3-3 10:49 into the period with a wrist shot of his own that eluded Auld. On their first power play of the game, which came at 14:10 of the third period, Kostitsyn deflected Roman Hamrlik’s point shot beyond Ward at 16:07.

• Key Moments:
It took more than 54 minutes, but the Canadiens finally got a power play against the Hurricanes and made it count.

• What It Means: Montreal gave itself a cushion in sixth place of the Eastern Conference, moving to 73 points with a 33-23-7 record, six points ahead of the Hurricanes in eighth spot and three up on the New York Rangers, who are in seventh.

• What’s Next:
The Canadiens hit the road for three games this week, starting on Tuesday in Atlanta, then off to Florida on Thursday and Tampa Bay on Saturday night.

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