Ward, Hurricanes beat Canadiens 2-0 for 3rd straight win

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Cam Ward stopped 27 shots in his second shutout of the season, and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 on Thursday night.

Brett Pesce and Brock McGinn scored to help the Hurricanes win their third straight, sweep the season series from Montreal and keep themselves in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Carolina entered two points out of a playoff spot.

Carey Price made 28 saves for the Canadiens, who have lost three in a row and fell to 2-5-2 in their last nine games.

McGinn made it a two-goal game with 5:09 remaining, taking a smooth pass from Justin Williams and slipping the puck past Price.

That gave Ward some breathing room, and he finished with the 27th shutout of his 13-year career - but his first in 36 games against the Canadiens. He previously blanked defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh 4-0 on Jan. 4.

The teams' final meeting of the season bore little resemblance to their last one a week earlier - a wild 6-5 win by Carolina in Montreal - and the teams entered as two of the league's leaders in shots: The Hurricanes rank fourth in the NHL with an average of 34.3 shots, while the Canadiens are two spots behind at 33.8 shots per game.

Pesce came through with all the offense the Hurricanes needed at 2:43 of the second, when he blasted a slap shot from the point that got past Price. It came seconds after he whiffed on a shot attempt from just inside the blue line.

NOTES: Montreal LW Paul Byron was back in the lineup two nights after leaving the Canadiens' loss to St. Louis following a fall into the boards. ... Pesce's goal was his first since Jan. 14, 2017 - a span of 81 games. ... Montreal assistant Kirk Muller spent three seasons as Carolina's head coach.


Canadiens: Return home to take on Anaheim on Saturday.

Hurricanes: Play host to Detroit on Friday night.