Series (Game 4 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

Canadiens 4

(29-34-9, 75 pts)

Hurricanes 0

(22-40-6, 61 pts)

7:00 PM ET, March 31, 2003

PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

1 2 3 T
MTL 3 1 04
CAR 0 0 00

M. Garon (Canadiens - G): Saves: 33, Save Pct.: 1.000

R. Zednik (Canadiens - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

S. Koivu (Canadiens - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Montreal dominates Carolina a game after elimination

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Montreal coach Claude Julien isn't about to let the Canadiens waste the final few games of a disappointing season.

Saku Koivu, Francis Bouillon and Richard Zednik scored first-period goals as the Canadiens snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night.

Montreal came out strong one game after being eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoff chase, while the Hurricanes are now winless in eight (0-6-2).

''We want to at least take a step forward before next year starts,'' Julien said. ''There are still a lot of things we can accomplish as a team at this time of year that will simplify things for next year.

''If we do things that work well like we did tonight, then you've got believers and coming into next year it's a lot easier to sell.''

Mathieu Garon, giving Jose Theodore a night off, notched his second shutout in seven games this season, stopping 33 shots.

''It's good for the organization, it's good for the team to know you've got a backup goaltender than can do a job like that for you on any given night,'' Julien said. ''He's just building confidence for himself and he's getting the confidence of his teammates as well.''

Carolina, the defending East champs, have an NHL-low 61 points and didn't get its first power play until there was 6:12 remaining.

''We've been out of the playoffs for a while and we played a heck of a lot better than we did tonight,'' Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. ''This was the first dog we've had in a long time.

''For us to beat them, we were going to have to play a lot more physical than they did and we certainly didn't do that,'' Maurice added. ''They were really giving it to us off the rush.''

The Hurricanes also lost their 40th game -- a first for the franchise since 1997-98, the club's initial season in North Carolina following a move from Hartford, Conn.

''The biggest thing at this point of the season isn't the product, it's the process,'' Carolina defenseman Sean Hill said. ''It's about playing the right way and setting good examples for guys and getting into good habits. We're not doing that and it shows. That's why we played a game like we did tonight.''

Koivu, Bouillon and Zednik scored over the final 11:05 of the first to take a 3-0 lead as Carolina goaltender Kevin Weekes got little defensive help.

Koivu registered his 20th goal of the season when he was left wide open in the slot, while Bouillon scored 10 seconds after Weekes stopped Zednik on a breakaway as the teams skated four-on-four.

Zednik then notched his team-leading 30th goal with six seconds remaining in the period as Mike Ribeiro pulled Weekes out of the net and made a nice centering pass.

Ribeiro also assisted on Montreal's second goal, and Jan Bulis added a pair of assists.

Donald Audette gave his team a four-goal lead with 7:08 left in the second as his slap shot from the right wing slipped under the pads of Weekes, 4-18-5 since Dec. 22.

''We talked about not finishing on a bad note,'' said Julien, whose team has two games remaining. ''It's not too much to ask to give a 60-minute effort.''

Game notes

Carolina has been outscored 16-7 while playing four-on-four. ... Koivu notched his first 20-goal season since his rookie year of 1995-96. ... The Hurricanes fell to 4-12-4 against teams from the Northeast Division. ... Carolina has been outscored 78-43 in the first period. ... Montreal lost defenseman Andrei Markov late in the second period with a left knee injury. ... Koivu, Bulis and Craig Rivet are the only Canadiens to play in all 80 games this season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press