Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Stempniak Scores Twice as Hurricanes Down Canadiens to Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Stempniak Scores Twice as Hurricanes Down Canadiens to Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

Article excerpt

Stempniak, Hurricanes down Canadiens 4-1

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Montreal head coach Claude Julien called his team's performance against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night "unacceptable."

The Canadiens fell 4-1 to the visiting Hurricanes and saw their lead atop the Atlantic Division shrink to one point.

"Our effort and focus were unacceptable," said Julien. "We weren't on our game. We were chasing the puck all night. Hard to win games when that happens."

Montreal (41-24-9) took an early lead but Carolina (32-27-13) scored four unanswered goals to extend their point streak to nine games and keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Hurricanes are five points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 10 games left in their season.

"Our execution wasn't there tonight," said Phillip Danault, who centred the first line between Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov. "We have to find some extra motivation. This kind of performance won't cut it in the playoffs."

Lee Stempniak scored twice and Eddie Lack stopped 21 shots for Carolina. The Hurricanes, undefeated in regulation time in nine straight games (6-0-3), also got goals from Elias Lindholm and Jeff Skinner, into the empty net.

Montreal was the slower team and failed to dictate much of the play. The Canadiens turned the puck over 22 times and only won 35 per cent of the game's faceoffs.

Defenceman Jordie Benn said the home side got complacent, especially after the early lead.

"We got slow and we got away from our game," he said. "When we're playing our game, we're pretty effective. We had a good start but we got away from it."

Alex Galchenyuk scored the lone goal for Montreal after Julien demoted him from first-line centre to third-line winger. That move paid off just minutes into the encounter when Galchenyuk scored his first goal in 10 games at 6:46.

Andrew Shaw and Galchenyuk moved in on Lack on a 2-on-1, with Shaw completing a perfect pass to his new linemate, who made no mistake for his 16th of the season. …

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