Canes beat Canadiens, 2-1, notching season's first shootout win

calexander@newsobserver.comApril 5, 2012 

The Carolina Hurricanes played their final home game of the season Thursday and sent their fans home happy as Eric Staal's goal in a shootout lifted the Canes to a 2-1 victory at PNC Arena.

The Canadiens had a brief 5-on-3 power play late in regulation but could not score. Montreal then began the overtime with 1:33 of a 4-on-3 power play and could not score.

In the shootout, Canes goalie Cam Ward stopped shots by Lars Eller and David Desharnais, while Habs goalie Peter Budaj stopped Jeff Skinner and the Canes' Jussi Jokinen was wide on his attempt.

Erik Cole was the third Habs shooter. The former Hurricanes forward has 34 goals this season but his attempt hit the post.

"I definitely didn't want it to end with Erik Cole scoring on me in a shootout," Ward said. "The thing about the shootout is, you have to be able to be relaxed. I felt like I was more patient than previous shootouts, and it paid off. It's almost like the less you try, the better you get."

That left it up to Staal, who was 2-for-17 in his career on shootout shots before Thursday. But he knocked in the winner with a forehand flip that Budaj couldn't corral, giving the Canes their first shootout win of the season after six losses.

"It wasn't the prettiest looking goal," Staal said. "I'm just glad it went in for Cam because I thought he played a real solid game."

Canes coach Kirk Muller said it was fitting Staal score the winning shootout goal.

"The way he played the second half (of the season), it was great to see him be the final shooter and score the final goal," Muller said.

After a slow-moving, scoreless first period, both the Canes and Habs scored in the second and it was 1-1 after 40 minutes.

Blake Geoffrion gave the Habs a 1-0 lead at 4:32 of the second, but Chad LaRose's power-play goal tied it for the Canes with 9:58 left in the period.

Geoffrion beat Ward with a quick wraparound for his second of the season. But the Canadiens later were penalized for delay of game and LaRose scored, taking a pass from Jamie McBain beside the net, getting a shot off, then banging in the rebound.

It was LaRose's 19th goal of the season, tying his career high set in 2008-2009.

Ward had some timely saves for the Canes in the second period. He made a diving blocker save on a shot by Desharnais with 6:26 left in the period, then made a sprawling stop on Tomas Plekanec's shorthanded breakaway with 3:40 left.

The Canes had a chance to grab the lead 23 seconds into the game, but LaRose was denied on a shot in front by Budaj.

The Habs, last in the Eastern Conference, were playing their second game in two nights, having beaten Tampa Bay 5-2 Wednesday night in Montreal.

Canes defenseman Bryan Allen was playing his 600th NHL game.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service