MONTREAL (AP) — Four goals and points from eight players. It was a full-team effort on Thursday night for the Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Canadiens
Carey Price made 31 saves for his league-leading and career-best 39th win of the season, lifting the Canadiens past the Carolina Hurricanes 4-0 on Thursday night. Montreal won back-to-back games for the first time in March.
“All four lines played well tonight, which I can’t say we’ve had for a while,” said fourth-liner Dale Weise, who had a goal and an assist for his first multi-point game in more than a month. “It was nice to have a complete effort from the team. And our goaltender made the saves, as always.
“If we’re going to have success down the stretch going into the playoffs, we need four lines that are going to score. There’s no other way around it.”
Price earned his eighth shutout for the Canadiens, who also got goals from Brendan Gallagher, David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty.
“I’m very satisfied,” coach Michel Therrien said. “Everybody got involved. This could have been a tricky game. We had a good start to the game and imposed our rhythm.
“We need contributions from everybody.”
Anton Khudobin stopped 18 of 22 shots for Carolina, which has lost five of its last six.
Montreal has won five straight against the Hurricanes.
The Canadiens set the tone early with first-period goals from Weise and Gallagher. Fourth-liner Weise scored his 10th goal at 5:51, jumping on a rebound after Khudobin made the initial save on Manny Malhotra. Three minutes later, Gallagher scored his career-high 20th by swiping a backhand up and over Khudobin’s shoulder.
The shots were 7-1 in favor of Montreal at that point.
“We didn’t get physically engaged in the game for the most part at all,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. “We didn’t have enough quality chances throughout the night. In the first period, we weren’t dangerous. All in all, we needed to be better than that.”
Price was busier in the second period. The league leader in save percentage and goals-against average made back-to-back stops on Nathan Gerbe and Alexander Semin midway through the frame before making a toe save on Brad Malone a minute later.
The Canadiens rewarded their goalie’s efforts late in the period by padding Montreal’s lead. On a delayed penalty against Carolina, Desharnais made it 3-0 at 18:48 by sneaking behind an unsuspecting Eric Staal to tap in a cross-crease pass by defenseman Tom Gilbert.
With an assist on the goal, Weise recorded his first multi-point game since Feb. 8.
The Hurricanes pressed for a goal in the third period as they outshot Montreal 17-4. But it was Pacioretty who found the back of the net at 14:46– banking the puck in off Khudobin from a tough angle.
With 90 seconds on the clock, Price preserved his shutout by stopping Victor Rask on a breakaway. In the final minute, Brandon Prust blocked a shot by Staal to keep Carolina off the scoreboard.
“(Price) already said thanks after the game,” said Prust, who finished with an assist and a plus-3 rating. “We were out there for one reason, to make sure that puck didn’t get in the net to make sure he got that shutout. I just tried to get in the lane.”
NOTES: Cam Ward missed the game with the flu. Montreal-born Danny Biega, recalled from the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers on Wednesday, played his first career NHL game. The 23-year-old finished with a minus-2 rating. … Staal is without a point in his last four games.