Hurricanes 3, Canadiens 2


MONTREAL (AP) – Rod Brind’Amour scored 5:54 into the third period to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens and tie the first-round playoff series on Friday night.

The second-seeded Hurricanes, who won despite blowing an early lead, dropped the first two games of the best-of-seven series at home but swept two straight in Montreal. Game 5 of the Eastern Conference matchup will be Sunday night at Carolina.

Brind’Amour, who has four goals in three games, made his third opportunity to score the charm for Carolina as he jumped on a loose puck behind Cristobal Huet and banked a shot in off the Montreal goalie.

Huet made a sensational pad save to deny the Hurricanes captain on a short-handed breakaway in the second period before Brind’Amour had an apparent go-ahead goal disallowed later in the frame.

Justin Williams – whose unpenalized high-stick in Game 3 forced Canadiens captain Saku Koivu to be hospitalized with an eye injury – had a hand in both of the Hurricanes’ first-period goals. Carolina scored twice within 1:11 midway through the penalty-free period to jump out to a 2-0 lead.

Cam Ward made 23 saves in his second straight start for the Hurricanes after replacing Martin Gerber midway through Game 2.

Montreal rookie Alexander Perezhogin scored his first career playoff goal 5:21 into the second to make it 2-1.

Brind’Amour came close to restoring the Hurricanes’ two-goal lead when he drove in on Huet right after Carolina defenseman Bret Hedican was given a double minor for high sticking to put Carolina down two players.

Huet stuck out his left pad to deny the short-handed scoring chance, and Canadiens defenseman Sheldon Souray took advantage of the 5-on-3. He scored his second of the series on a 40-foot slap shot at 12:58 to tie it at 2 and bring the crowd back to life.

Brind’Amour appeared to score the go-ahead goal for Carolina 18:38 into the second. Brind’Amour was in the crease when he put in the rebound, and referee Don VanMassenhoven immediately pointed to the net from behind to indicate a goal.

Stationed at the blue line, referee Tim Peel had blown his whistle before the puck crossed the line and waved off the goal. That prompted an animated argument from Brind’Amour and the rest of the Hurricanes.

Williams opened the scoring 10:22 in when he got credit for his first goal of the series after his shot hit the crossbar and bounced off Huet’s back and into the net.

The Hurricanes right wing made a sensational play to set up Aaron Ward’s goal at 11:33. Williams went down the left side and held the puck in front of Canadiens defenseman Craig Rivet before passing to Ward, who charged past Montreal right wing Michael Ryder and beat a sprawled Huet from a sharp angle. That put Carolina up by two and further silenced the sellout crowd.

Notes: Brind’Amour talked with VanMassenhoven again at the end of the second period while Hurricanes veterans Doug Weight and Hedican gathered by Peel. … Brind’Amour has six goals in 10 career playoff games against Montreal. … Ward has two goals in 57 career playoff games. … D Mark Streit made his first career playoff appearance and played left wing on Montreal’s fourth line.

AP-ES-04-28-06 2150EDT