RALEIGH, N.C. – Justin Williams and Eric Belanger scored less than a minute apart in the third period to lead the Carolina Hurricanes past the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 on Thursday night.

Erik Cole added a pair of goals off his own rebounds for the Hurricanes, who stayed on the attack almost the entire way. Carolina finished with a season-high 48 shots to keep steady pressure on Montreal goalie Cristobal Huet throughout, while Cam Ward finished with 25 saves on the other end.

Michael Ryder and Tomas Plekanec scored for the Canadiens, who had won four of five. Huet finished with 44 saves.

The Hurricanes had lost three of four, prompting coach Peter Laviolette to meet with his players in groups after Wednesday’s practice and discuss ways to get the Stanley Cup champions refocused. The Hurricanes responded with a strong effort, surpassing their previous season high of 40 shots – set three times – before finally pushing ahead with the scores from Williams and Belanger.

With the score tied at 2, Williams took a pass from Ray Whitney and flipped a backhand shot by Huet from near the right circle for the go-ahead score at 12:27 of the third. Then, after a battle along the boards in the Montreal zone, Belanger corralled the puck and flipped a shot by Huet for a 4-2 lead at 13:13.

The Canadiens struck first when Ryder took a short pass from Guillaume Latendresse and beat Ward from the right side of the crease midway through the first period.

Flyers 3, Islanders 2

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Rookie defenseman Alexandre Picard had the first two assists of his NHL career and the Philadelphia Flyers used three special teams goals to beat the New York Islanders 3-2 Thursday night.

Picard, who along with fellow rookies Jussi Timonen and Lars Jonsson made up half of Philadelphia’s depleted defense corps, set up power-play goals by Randy Robitaille and Mike Knuble with long shots as the Flyers bounced back from a tough home loss to win for just the eighth time this season (8-15-3).

Simon Gagne scored a short-handed goal late in the second period and Antero Niittymaki made 39 saves in his sixth straight start for Philadelphia, beaten 3-2 by Nashville on Wednesday.

Chris Simon backhanded a shot past Niittymaki with 30.3 seconds left in the middle frame and Richard Park added a goal in the third, but it wasn’t enough offense for the Islanders in their second game without injured leading scorer Alexei Yashin.

Thrashers 5, Leafs 0

ATLANTA – Marian Hossa had three goals and an assist, Kari Lehtonen stopped 36 shots and the Atlanta Thrashers beat Toronto 5-0 on Thursday night for their first victory over the Maple Leafs in more than three years. Scott Mellanby and Brad Larsen also scored for the Thrashers, who snapped the Maple Leafs’ eight-game winning streak in the series by handing Toronto its first shutout of the season.

It was Atlanta’s first win over the Maple Leafs since a 3-2 overtime victory on Oct. 27, 2003, in Toronto. The Maple Leafs outscored the Thrashers 37-9 in their eight straight wins, including a 4-2 victory on Oct. 30 in Toronto.

Hossa ended his personal history of frustration against Toronto with his first hat trick for Atlanta. Hossa leads the NHL with 20 goals this season, but he had only one goal and one assist in his last nine games against Toronto, a streak that began before Hossa’s 2005 trade to Atlanta from Ottawa.

Senators 6, Panthers 0

OTTAWA – Dany Heatley had two goals and an assist and Ray Emery made 31 saves for Ottawa’s first shutout of the season in the Senators’ 6-0 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, Andrej Meszaros and Antoine Vermette also scored for Ottawa, which won its second straight. The Senators, who moved one game over .500, have won seven of eight since getting off to a 7-11-1 start.

Two children attending the game were sent to a hospital – as a precaution – after plexiglass shattered in front of them when Senators defenseman Chris Phillips checked Florida’s Stephen Weiss into the boards early in the first. Heatley scored a power-play goal 2:37 in, then made it 2-0 with his team-leading 16th goal at 8:52.

Fisher scored a short-handed goal at 17:37 to increase the lead to 3-0, and Ottawa added three more goals in the second.

Emery got his fourth career shutout and first since March 19, when he stopped 22 shots in a 4-0 win at New Jersey.

Capitals 4, Stars 3

WASHINGTON – Olaf Kolzig made 35 saves and withstood a third-period rally to finally defeat the only NHL franchise he had never beaten when the Washington Capitals posted a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.

Richard Zednik, Chris Clark, Matt Pettinger and Alexander Semin scored for the Capitals, who won their second straight after six losses. Jakub Klepis had two assists. Kolzig, who won his 255th career game, had been 0-9-1 against the Minnesota/Dallas franchise before handing the Stars their season-high third consecutive loss. Dallas had beaten the Capitals five straight.

Jussi Jokinen had two goals and Stu Barnes also scored for Dallas, which dropped its fourth consecutive road game.

Zednik and Clark tallied 1:52 apart in the first for a 2-0 lead.

Zednik’s fourth goal of the year put the Capitals up 1-0 13:05 into the game. No one picked Zednik up along the right wing and he snapped a short pass from Brooks Laich past Mike Smith from the right circle.

With Washington on a power play, Klepis won the puck in a scrum along the boards and fed Clark, who scored from between the circles at 14:47.

Jokinen halved the lead 41 seconds into the second period, flipping the puck past Kolzig from high in the slot.

Predators 5, Blues 4

ST. LOUIS – Jordin Tootoo’s first goal of the season snapped a tie early in the third period, helping the Nashville Predators win their fourth straight game with a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Scott Hartnell scored his fourth goal in three games and had an assist for the Central Division leaders, who are 8-0-1 against the Blues the last two seasons and followed up on a 3-2 victory at Philadelphia on Wednesday. Paul Kariya added his sixth goal and David Legwand got his seventh.

The game drew an announced attendance of 5,410, the fifth-lowest in franchise history, held down by daylong snow and sleet that hampered traffic. The actual attendance appeared to be several thousand people fewer than that, with some upper-deck sections empty and mere handfuls of fans in some lower-bowl sections.

Keith Tkachuk’s seventh goal snapped a four-game drought without a point for St. Louis, which lost its third in a row despite ending an offensive slump. The Blues had totaled one goal in their previous two games and outshot the Predators 42-17.

Bill Guerin scored his second goal of the game with 1:13 to go, his first goals in 10 games.


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