Series (Game 3 of 4)

Montreal leads 2-1

Game 1: Friday, November 1st
Game 2: Saturday, November 23rd
Game 3: Saturday, March 22nd
Game 4: Monday, March 31st

Hurricanes 3

(22-37-6, 60 pts)

Canadiens 5

(28-32-8, 72 pts)

7:00 PM ET, March 22, 2003

Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

1 2 3 T
CAR 1 1 13
MTL 2 2 15

F. Bouillon (Canadiens - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

J. Ward (Canadiens - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

S. Koivu (Canadiens - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

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, Minn.

''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 respectfully.''

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press