NHL Game Summary - Montreal at Carolina
(Wednesday, October 3rd)
Final Score: Montreal 3, Carolina 2 (OT)
Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - Saku Koivu beat Cam Ward on the power play for his second goal of the game, just over a minute into the overtime period, giving the Montreal Canadiens a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in the season opener for both teams.
Niclas Wallin was whistled to the penalty box for cross checking 46 seconds into overtime, and the Canadiens made the Hurricanes pay. With 3:55 remaining in the extra session, Michael Ryder found Koivu below the right circle for a shot that sailed over Ward's left shoulder and gave Montreal the road victory.
Andrei Markov had a pair of assists, goaltender Cristobal Huet stopped 29 of 31 shots, and Mark Streit had a first period goal for Montreal.
"Our frontline created a tough situation for them," said Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau. "And that's what I like about this team - we can put four lines and not be afraid of anybody."
Bret Hedican and Eric Staal tallied for the Hurricanes, while Ward made 37 saves in taking the tough-luck loss.
"It was wide open I think, at both ends," said Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette. "Offensively they got more than I would have liked to have seen. I think that we had our looks at it. It seemed like there was a lot of opportunity - half open nets, and posts. I think that things opened up a little bit too much...and we need to tighten that up defensively. Offensively we got a little slow in the start of the third period and picked it up in the end but now we're trying to push."
Carolina broke a scoreless game after Alexei Kovalev's hooking penalty at 1:51 in the first period led to a power-play goal by Staal. Scott Walker fired to Eric Staal for a one-timer from the right point for the initial score at the 3:37 mark.
After the Hurricanes failed to capitalize on their next man-advantage, Montreal turned an Andrew Ladd penalty into a Streit goal on a centering pass from Kovalev. Markov also assisted on the play to tie the game at 13:01 of the first.
Late in the first, Carolina went from a 5-on-3 advantage to an even 4-on-4 when Rod Brind'Amour was called for obstruction, and the scoring opportunity went wasted.
"They didn't happen," said Laviolette of the power-play opportunities. "But if you go back and look at it, you're gonna find out that we got the looks we were looking for, we had opportunities to pound the puck and we did. (We) had a post, we had a save by Huet on the back door."
Huet and Ward combined to stop 21 shots in a scoreless second period before Koivu tied the game at 9:31 in the third when he received pass from Markov directly in front and fired a wrist shot past Ward for a 2-1 advantage. The goal came on the power play as Wallin was in the box for tripping.
Carolina answered a little more than three minutes later when Hedican took a pass from Justin Williams and scored from the left slot, tying the game.
Both teams had their chances to win the game in regulation, one of which came when Koivu hit the left post with 3:30 left on a pass from Ryder, but Ward was solid, saving 17 shots in the period, and Huet made eight saves of his own to send the game to overtime.
Canadiens defenseman Roman Hamrlik reached a personal milestone, playing in his 1,000th career game...Montreal's win was its first in four tries against the Hurricanes, who had also taken seven of the previous eight contests.
10/03 22:51:44 ET