Habs fall to Hurricanes
|Tomas Plekanec had the first three-point of his career in his return to the lineup against Carolina.|
RALEIGH - Despite a three-point night from Tomas Plekanec in his return to the lineup, the Canadiens' road trip didn't get any easier Monday night, as the Hurricanes came away with a 7-3 victory at the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC.
Montreal (21-19-6) dropped its seventh straight game on the road, while the Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes (33-11-4) won their eighth straight game on home-ice to keep pace with the Senators atop the Eastern Conference.
As he has all season long, Eric Staal led the way for the Hurricanes with a goal, his 33rd of the season, and two assists. Also scoring for the Hurricanes were Erik Cole, Bret Hedican, Matt Cullen, Justin Williams, Craig Adams and Andrew Ladd.
Jose Theodore, who was making his fifth consecutive start, allowed five goals on 18 shots before being replaced by Cristobal Huet at the 11:15 mark of the second period. Huet stopped 17-of-19 shots he faced in his second straight relief appearance.
In his return to the lineup after missing 14 games with a knee injury, Plekanec scored a pair of goals and added an assist, giving the rookie six goals and 15 points on the year. The Czech forward, who was called up earlier in the day from Hamilton following a two-game, weekend conditioning stint with the Bulldogs, had his first three-point night of his young career. After beating Cam Ward on a breakaway thanks to a long pass from Steve Begin, Plekanec broke in alone again in the third before roofing a backhand past Ward. The Canadiens, who were 5-9-0 during Plekanec's five-week absence, are now 16-10-6 when the 23-year-old is in the lineup this season.
Claimed off waivers from the St. Louis Blues by the Canadiens on Monday afternoon, tough guy Aaron Downey picked up his first point as a Montreal Canadien after having helped set-up Plekanec's second goal. Downey logged 9:47 of ice-time and was plus-1 in his Canadiens debut.
As time was winding down in the third, Francis Bouillon notched his third of the season when he pounced on a Michael Ryder rebound during a late-game power-play. All three of Bouillon's goals in 2005-06 have come with the man advantage. Bouillon also added an assist for his second multi-point game of the season.
The Canadiens will now travel to Philadephia for their date with the Flyers on Wednesday, before heading to Ottawa to face the Senators the following night.
NOTES: C Chris Higgins, sidelined by a groin injury, missed his second straight game while Andrei Markov missed his third with a shoulder injury. C Garth Murray returned to Montreal after suffering a separated shoulder in Vancouver on Saturday... RW Jonathan Ferland and D Jean-Philippe Cote were healthy scratches... Montreal was 1-for-5 on the power-play, while the Hurricanes were 2-for-6, with one of their goals coming on a 5-on-3 advantage in the second period.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com