PLAYOFFS
CAR Wins series 4-2
52-22-8, 21-14-6 away
2
123OTT
CAR00112
MTL01001
42-31-9, 24-13-4 home
1

Ward outduels Huet as Hurricanes post OT win over Habs

MONTREAL (AP) -- Carolina felt like it finally caught a few

breaks and the Hurricanes can only hope they came soon enough to

get their playoff run back on track.

Eric Staal scored a power-play goal 3:38 into overtime Wednesday

night to give Carolina a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens as

the Hurricanes avoided falling into an 0-3 hole in their

first-round playoff series.

Montreal's Tomas Plekanec was sent off for hooking 2:35 into

overtime and Staal won it with a drive from the point that went

through traffic and past goalie Cristobal Huet.

Huet said he lost sight of the puck and knew it was bad news

when the raucous Bell Centre crowd of 21,273 suddenly went silent.

"We needed the win," Staal said. "I didn't get as much wood

on it as I would have liked, but I found the back of the net with a

good screen in front."

Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour tied the game 11:27 into the third

period with his third goal in two games.

"At least it got us in the game and gave us a chance to win

it," Brind'Amour said. "We didn't play great, our power play

wasn't too good but we were fortunate enough to get another one in

overtime and make that one work."

Rookie Cam Ward stopped 27 shots in his first career playoff

start as the second-seeded Hurricanes recovered from two home

losses to draw within 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

"I was thinking before the game how exciting it was to have my

first playoff start in Montreal and what the atmosphere was going

to be like," Ward said. "It only would have been fitting if we

won and fortunately we were able to rally in the end."

Game 4 is Friday night in Montreal. The Hurricanes have never

come back to win a playoff series after losing the first two games.

"We're playing against a good team and I don't think we ever

dropped our understanding of that or respect for their team,"

Candiens GM-coach Bob Gainey said. "We know that they're a good

team and that we're going to have to play as well as we can for as

many minutes as we can. I thought our team played well tonight. It

was a good playoff game."

Montreal's Saku Koivu left early in the second period, bleeding

from a cut in the area of his left eye after he was clipped by

Hurricanes right wing Justin Williams' stick while cutting past

Carolina's net. Koivu, who wears a visor, was taken to a hospital

with a facial injury and did not return.

Gainey said Koivu was cut around his left eye and had an

undetermined eye injury and will be examined by team opthalmologist

Dr. John Little.

"I really don't know any specifics and I wouldn't know how to

explain it to you if I did," Gainey said. "When it's around the

eye I think it's wise and prudent that all caution be taken."

No penalty was called on the play.

"You can sit here and talk about the refereeing and whatever,

but they're not going to see everything and there have been

questionable calls probably all year long," Canadiens defenseman

Sheldon Souray said. "It's black, white and gray this year, the

refereeing. You can't blame them but is it frustrating? Yeah, sure

it's frustrating.

"They certainly missed it, but stuff happens during the game.

You don't want to blame the referees for anything."

Huet made 34 saves after stopping a total of 83 shots in the

first two games. Richard Zednik scored his second of the series on

a power play 9:07 into the second.

Brind'Amour, who scored twice in Game 2, poked a loose puck past

Souray and steered a shot along the ice and between Huet's pads to

tie it at 1.

"I just wanted to give us a chance to get back in the game and

win somehow and it was a lucky break," Brind'Amour said. "I was

able to get by one defenseman and then flicked it at the net and it

went off their defenseman's stick as it was going in. It was a

fortunate bounce but they've had a couple too so I think we were

due for one like that."

Carolina had a 4-minute power-play opportunity late in the third

when Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek was given a double minor

for high-sticking at 15:26 after he clipped Cory Stillman.

Ward made his postseason debut when he replaced Martin Gerber

midway through Game 2.

Whipped into a frenzy when the Canadiens took the ice after a

pre-game projection of film highlights of the team's 1976 sweep of

Philadelphia in the Stanley Cup final, the sold-out crowd got an

early opportunity to begin chanting "Huet! Huet!" when the

Montreal goalie made a pad save on Staal 38 seconds in.

Huet stuck out his right pad again moments later to deny

Brind'Amour.

Montreal broke through in the second when Hurricanes defenseman

Aaron Ward swiped the puck from Zednik as he drove across the goal

mouth before Ryder -- who scored the overtime winner for Montreal on

Monday -- passed the puck back to Zednik, who flipped it past Ward

into the left side of the net for his 16th goal in 40 career

playoff games.

Otherwise, Ward proved hard to beat, making a sensational glove

save to deny Mike Ribeiro on a power play 11:14 into the second. He

made another huge stop 52 seconds into the period when he thrust up

his glove to grab Plekanec's slap shot from the slot. Ward stopped

Francis Bouillon on a breakaway 14:40 into the second period.Game notes
The Hurricanes won seven of nine overtime games in 2002

when they reached the Stanley Cup finals in their last playoff

appearance. ... D Bret Hedican assisted on both Carolina goals. ...

Souray assisted on Zednik's goal as he returned to the lineup after

leaving Monday's game early with a lower-body injury.