Latest Canadiens' comeback falls short in 5-3 loss to Hurricanes

Habs fall behind 2-0 for the third straight game, but this time they aren’t able to come away with any points in standings.

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One of the most impressive things about this young Canadiens team is that they never give up.

But they have to get off to better starts.

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For the third straight game, the Canadiens fell behind 2-0 Thursday night in Carolina. This time they couldn’t come away with a point in the standings, losing 5-3 to the Hurricanes after losing 4-3 to the Minnesota Wild in overtime and beating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in their previous two games.

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Andrei Svechnikov had a hat trick, including an empty-netter, and Jesper Fast scored twice for the Hurricanes. Mitchell Stephens, Mike Matheson and Josh Anderson scored for the Canadiens.

Svechnikov opened the scoring 1:35 into the first period, deflecting a point shot by Brent Burns past goalie Cayden Primeau. Fast put the Hurricanes up 2-0 at 12:40, but the Canadiens once again fought back. Stephens scored his second goal in two games at 13:51 and Matheson scored a power-play goal with only four seconds left on the clock, sending the teams into the first intermission tied 2-2. Sean Monahan picked up an assist on Matheson’s goal for his 500th career point.

The Canadiens were outshot 15-7 in the first 20 minutes and they have been outscored 31-19 in the first period this season. Their 19 first-period goals are the fewest of any team in the NHL.

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The Hurricanes got off to a quick start again in the second period with Fast scoring the only goal of the period at the 1:29 mark.

Once again, the Canadiens fought back and Anderson tied the score 3-3 with his fifth goal in five games only 25 seconds into the third period, beating goalie Antti Raanta on a breakaway with a nice deke to his backhand and then going five-hole.

Svechnikov scored the winning goal at 13:51 of the third period shortly after Sebastian Aho beat Nick Suzuki on a faceoff in the Canadiens’ zone, before completing his hat trick with an empty-netter with 19 seconds left on the clock.

The Canadiens saw their record fall to 15-14-5 and their streak of earning at least a point in five straight games (3-0-2) came to an end. The Hurricanes improved to 19-13-4 and they are 15-1-1 in their last 17 games against the Canadiens, who haven’t won in Carolina since April 7, 2016.

“There’s no quit in our hockey team,” Anderson, who now has six goals on the season, told reporters in Carolina after the game. “We found a way to get back in the game early enough to give us a chance to win. I thought our team played really well. Everybody was engaged tonight. It’s a good hockey team over there. You got to give them credit, but I thought we were right there with them, too.”

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The Canadiens’ Cole Caufield failed to score a goal for the fourth straight game and has only one goal in the last 12 games. With eight goals this season, Caufield is only two ahead of Anderson, who failed to score in the first 24 games. Brendan Gallagher failed to score a goal for the 20th straight game and is stuck on five goals for the season.

On the Hurricanes’ side, Jesperi Kotkaniemi was held off the scoresheet and now has one goal and no assists in the last 15 games. The former Canadien, selected third overall at the 2018 NHL Draft, was only given 9:41 of ice time by head coach Rod Brind’Amour. Kotkaniemi has 9-7-16 totals in the second season of an eight-year, US$38.56-million contract.

For the first time this season, Primeau made back-to-back starts, making 26 saves as the Hurricanes outshot the Canadiens 31-21. Primeau’s record is now 4-4-0 with a 3.30 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage.

“I think they came out hard,” Primeau told reporters in Carolina after the game. “We had a good second period and then kind of let it slip from us a little bit. But they’re a good team. For them to get two (goals) early and then us come back … after the first it was a 0-0 game, technically. It was good for us to come back. I think if we clean some things up we’ll be fine.”

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The Canadiens’ Juraj Slafkovsky left the game with 5:26 remaining in the third period under concussion protocol after taking a big hit from the Hurricanes’ Stefan Noesen. No penalty was called on the play after Noesen’s shoulder hit Slafkovsky in the head.

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“I talked to him a little bit after (the game) and he said he’s OK,” Anderson said when asked about Slafkovsky. “So we’ll see.”

The Canadiens were flying to Florida after the game and will face the Panthers on Saturday (7 p.m., SNE, Citytv, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). Expect goalies Samuel Montembeault and Jake Allen to split those two games.

This was the fourth of seven straight road games for the Canadiens, who have a 2-1-1 record so far. They will complete the stretch of road games next Tuesday against the Dallas Stars (8 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

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