- The Washington Times - Friday, May 10, 2002

MONTREAL When Carolina began crowding goalie Jose Theodore in the third period, Montreal coach Michel Therrien lost his cool. Then the Canadiens lost their momentum and an important game.

Niclas Wallin scored on a slap shot through a screen 3:14 into overtime last night to give Hurricanes a stunning 4-3 comeback victory over the Canadiens.

The Hurricanes regained the home-ice advantage in the best-of-seven by scoring four unanswered goals to even the series 2-2.

Carolina's offensive flurry started after Therrien was assessed a crucial penalty. He was called for abusing the officials after protesting a cross-checking penalty to Montreal defenseman Stephane Quintal, who was penalized when he tried to protect his goalie.

That gave the Hurricanes, down 3-0, a two-man advantage just 2:40 into the third. Sean Hill used the open ice to end Theodore's bid for his first playoff shutout, scoring on a hard slap shot from the slot at 3:57.

Therrien took the blame for the defeat.

"We lost the momentum when we were two men short," he said. "We stopped skating, stopped hitting, stopped moving the puck, and they put on a lot of pressure."

The Hurricanes showed grit with that spirited rally and will try to build on it Sunday in Game 5 at home. Game 6 is in Montreal on Monday night.

"Every period, the mindset is the same," said rookie Erik Cole, who tied the game at 3 with just 40.8 seconds left in regulation. "It's been a long time coming. We don't change. The guys keep things on a pretty even keel. We keep our emotions in check."

It must have been difficult. Early on, it seemed like the Canadiens' night. Andreas Dackell, Yanic Perreault and Sergei Berezin staked Montreal to a 3-0 lead by the midpoint of the second period. The Habs had even forced Carolina goalie Kevin Weekes to the bench after one period in favor of Arturs Irbe.

But the Hurricanes, desperate not to fall behind by two games in the series, gamely fought back, outshooting Montreal 14-4 in the third period.

"You go through the year, every time our backs have been against the wall, we've always found a way to win," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "If you asked our room, they truly believed they could do it."

Bates Battaglia narrowed the lead to 3-2 with his second goal in two games, scoring past Theodore's stick on a shot from the slot that appeared to be slightly screened.

With the Canadiens reeling and the Hurricanes buzzing, Maurice pulled Irbe for an extra attacker with 1:07 left and it paid off with Cole's goal.

With goals at a premium in the low-scoring series only 10 were scored in the first three games both teams desperately wanted the first one. In the first three games, whoever scored first had won.

The Canadiens, who had been outshot for 11 straight periods, outshot Carolina 9-6 in the first and sent the capacity crowd of over 21,000 into a towel-waving frenzy with goals just 58 seconds apart.

The first came after a harmless flip from the right boards by Montreal defenseman Patrice Brisebois. The puck fluttered end-over-end as it sailed toward the net and took a tricky bounce when it hit the ice. Weekes couldn't cover the puck and left a big rebound at the skates of Dackell, who easily swept it into the net with a backhander at 10:56 for his first goal of the postseason.

The Canadiens struck again less than a minute later with the help of another lucky bounce. Defenseman Stephane Quintal's slap shot from the left point struck Donald Audette's stick as he attempted a deflection in the circle and the puck landed next to Perreault. The French Canadian star, who led the team in scoring during the regular season, beat Weekes with a quick wrist shot and Montreal had an imposing 2-0 lead. It was Perreault's third goal of the playoffs, and the Hurricanes called a timeout to regroup.

Weekes, who had become a savior of sorts with consecutive shutouts in the playoffs, was pulled and the Hurricanes displayed some spark. A tripping penalty against Quintal gave them a chance to get back in the game.

But Theodore made a splendid stop on a Bret Hedican slapper and another on Josef Vasicek from in close that left him hanging his head in dismay. Despite sustained pressure during the power play, the Hurricanes failed to score with the man advantage for the 16th time in 17 tries in the series.

The Canadiens made it 3-0 on a power play midway through the second.


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