Hurricanes overcome early deficit, but fall to Habs in 2OT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A couple fluke goals, with plenty of hard skating and swagger in between. The Carolina Hurricanes finally looked like the team that raced to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.

It still wasn't enough to beat Montreal.

"We stuck with the same plan, we kept believing," Canadiens center Mike Ribeiro said. "It was a great game to watch, I'm sure, for everyone."

Well, maybe in his dressing room.

Michael Ryder scored 2:32 into the second overtime after Carolina rallied from three goals down to take the lead and Montreal beat the Hurricanes 6-5 on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in the series. Game 3 is Wednesday night in Montreal.

Chris Higgins chased down the puck behind the net and then centered it to Ryder, who quickly ended the game with a slap shot.

"I just shot it, and it went in five-hole," Ryder said.

Alexei Kovalev and Richard Zednik scored 36 seconds apart in the third period to give Montreal a 5-4 lead, but Cory Stillman forced the extra periods with a goal with 90 seconds left in regulation. With goalie Cam Ward on the bench in favor of an extra skater, Bret
Hedican sent a pass across the ice to Stillman, who sent a one-timer in off the right post.

Ryder finished with two goals, and he, Jan Bulis and Radek Bonk all scored in the first period to give Montreal that commanding lead, forcing Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette to bench goalie Martin Gerber. Gerber has allowed nine goals on 34 shots in the two games.

"That was one of the plans, to challenge Gerber," Ribeiro said. "He was shaky first game. But a lot of times, when you change a goalie, the momentum switches sides."

Ward, a rookie, took over and played solidly enough to give Carolina the opportunity for a remarkable comeback aided greatly by a couple penalties on the Canadiens.

"I just tried the best that I could to step in and help out as much as I could," Ward said. "Unfortunately, we fell a little short."

First, Matt Cullen got a fortuitous bounce off the skate of Ribeiro, and the puck skittered through goalie Cristobal Huet to make it 3-1. Then Rod Brind'Amour cut the margin to a single goal by scoring on the power play, seconds after a five-on-three ended.

Doug Weight gave him the pass right in front of the net, and Brind'Amour quickly poked it past Huet. Finally, Ray Whitney and Brind'Amour scored less than a minute apart early in the third period with the Canadiens again shorthanded.

Alexander Perezhogin (hooking) and Francis Bouillon (delay of game) gave the Hurricanes another two-man advantage to start the period, and after Whitney's goal, Brind'Amour added another while Bouillon remained in the penalty box.

"Even though they took the lead, we stayed in the game," Kovalev said. "We did a lot of good things. We're definitely a better team when we keep the five-on-five game."

Whitney was back in the lineup after missing seven straight games with a groin injury. His goal came when he attempted a pass through the crease to Weight, and Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov inadvertently knocked the puck in his own net with his stick.

When Brind'Amour beat Huet with a wraparound, the home team was suddenly ahead 4-3.

"They came back, but we never put our arms down," Ribeiro said. "We kept pushing."

Kovalev, the best player on the ice so far in this series, led the charge, getting his third goal in two games from a sharp angle. His shot was the third in quick succession against Ward, and this one found the top of the net.

"We had played such a great game, there was no reason to quit," Kovalev said. "We know how good we played, we know how many chances we got. It was about capitalizing on one of them."

Zednik sent a one-timer through Ward's pads following a nice pass from Perezhogin to give the Canadiens a 5-4 lead. Huet, who wasn't quite as sharp in his second postseason appearance as he was in the opener, did enough to make it stand.

He finished with 41 saves after stopping 42-of-43 shots Saturday night.

"It wasn't my best game," Huet said. "That was a great character from all the guys. For my part, I tried to be strong in OT and give the team a chance to win the game."

Ward, a 22-year-old who was the 25th overall pick in the 2002 draft, had 20 saves after replacing Gerber. Ward went 14-8 during the regular season, a year after he set franchise records at AHL Lowell for victories (27), shutouts (6), save percentage (.937) and goals-against average (1.99).

"I thought that under the situation, coming in off the bench like that, he did a good job," Laviolette said. "He came in and made some big saves, especially in the third period."

Game notes
The Canadiens opened the series with a 6-1 victory Saturday night. ... Carolina defenseman Aaron Ward left for several minutes after blocking a shot in the second period. Because the Canadiens held
possession of the puck for a short time after his injury, he was forced to stay on the ice. He later returned. ... Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray left with what the team called a lower-body injury and didn't return, leaving the Canadiens with five defensemen. ... Hurricanes right winger Justin Williams had a scary incident in the first period when Montreal defenseman Mike Komisarek came from behind and checked him into the net. Williams slammed into the post face-first and stayed on the ice for several seconds before leaving with assistance. He also returned.