Montreal beats Carolina, but still six points from playoffs


MONTREAL (AP) -- The Montreal Canadiens are trying to stay
positive as their playoff hopes fade.

Saku Koivu and Andrei Markov each had a goal and an assist, and
Jose Theodore made 34 saves to lead the Canadiens to a 5-3 victory
over Carolina on Saturday night.

Francis Bouillon, Jason Ward and Donald Audette also scored for
Montreal, which ended a seven-game home winless streak.

The Canadiens, who had lost three in a row overall, are 10th in
the Eastern Conference, six points behind the New York Islanders -- who have played one less game -- for the eighth and final playoff
spot with six games left.

''We have two weeks to go here and we can make it a lot more fun
by winning and working hard and showing up in our games,'' Koivu
said. ''Otherwise, it's going to be a long two weeks and
everybody's going to be miserable, so hopefully we can have some
fun and everybody's going to work hard and stay positive.''

Carolina's Kevin Adams opened the scoring 14 seconds into the
game, and Josef Vasicek also scored for the Hurricanes, who outshot
Montreal 37-23.

''Well, It was nice to get one early,'' Adams said. ''We had a
lot of shots and we had a lot of chances, but we couldn't
capitalize on enough of them, obviously. We hung in there and
fought, but you can't give up that many goals. We were on our heels
for a little while there and when we get three goals, we need to
win games when we score that many goals.''

The crowd of 21,273 cheered during the final verse of the U.S.
national anthem following a video address by Hall of Famer Jean
Beliveau asking fans to respect the playing of both anthems.

''I thought that was a class act,'' said Adams, who was born in
Washington, D.C. ''I started the game on the blue line so it was
kind of hard to hear exactly what he was saying, but I'm sure his
message was well-heard. I think it was a class thing to do.''

A large number of Montreal fans voiced displeasure with the war
in Iraq by booing throughout the singing of ''The Star-Spangled
Banner'' before the defeat Thursday night against the New York Islanders.

On Saturday, only a handful of people booed as Charles
Prevost-Linton sang the anthem in virtual silence before the crowd
applauded during the final verse.

''The guy did a great job on the national anthem and the fans
here respected not only the sport, but the United States -- it was
nice,'' said Hurricanes defenseman Bret Hedican, from St. Paul,

''Guys are getting killed over there on both sides and any time
that happens, you just want to support your troops and the people
over there. It's a tough situation and I'm glad Montreal responded

The fans unleashed boos shortly thereafter as Adams tapped Craig
Adams' shot past Theodore for his ninth goal to give Carolina the
lead just 14 seconds in.

Bouillon drew the Canadiens even just 1:49 later, beating Arturs
Irbe for Montreal's second short-handed goal of the season.

Ward put Montreal ahead at 12:22 with his third goal in six
games since being recalled from the minors. The Canadiens took a
two-goal lead on Markov's 13th goal 3:57 into the second.

Markov and Koivu assisted on Audette's power-play goal that made
it 4-1 at 11:52. With Montreal enjoying a five-on-three advantage,
Audette's pass through the crease went into the net off the leg of
Hurricanes captain Ron Francis, who had sprawled out in an attempt to block the
pass after losing his stick earlier in the play.

Vasicek scored his 10th at 13:43, and Vrbata got his 16th goal
12:51 into the third to draw Carolina to 4-3 before Koivu scored
his 18th into an empty net with 58 seconds remaining.

Game notes
Shane Willis holds the Hurricanes' franchise record for the
fastest goal from the start of a game. Willis scored nine seconds
into a 4-0 victory over Ottawa on Nov. 12, 2000. Francis, who scored
eight seconds into the third period of Hartford's 11-0 victory over
Edmonton on Feb. 12, 1984, holds the franchise record for the
fastest goal from the start of a period. ... Canadiens right wing Randy
McKay returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for five
consecutive games. ... Koivu scored Montreal's only other short-handed
goal in a 5-4 victory over Pittsburgh on Nov. 18.