Hurricane Jeff Skinner, center, celebrates his second goal with teammates Jussi Jokinen, left, Bryan Allen and Tuomo Ruutu (15) during the first period against the Montreal Canadiens. CHRIS SEWARD - email@example.com
RALEIGH — Jeff Skinner remains on a roll. Jamie McBain has started one.
Skinner scored a pair of goals in the first period, his 28th and 29th of the season, and McBain added another two scores Wednesday as the Carolina Hurricanes whipped the Montreal Canadiens 6-2. Joni Pitkanen and Cory Stillman also scored for the Canes (37-30-10), who beat the Habs for the first time this season.
The Canes, who beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday, have 84 points but remained three points out of playoff position in the NHL East as the Buffalo Sabres (87 points) beat the New York Rangers (87 points).
The Canadiens (41-30-7) got power-play goals from Mike Cammalleri and P.K. Subban. The Habs have 89 points and are sixth in the East but have lost four of their last five games.
"It was an emotional game last night in Washington," Ward said. "To be able to respond and play with the up-tempo we did tonight really speaks volumes about the character in the room. We clearly know what's at stake here. Things are looking really good."
Ward had 38 saves for the second consecutive night, stopping all 17 Montreal shots in the first period.
"We got a good start, from all players," Canes coach Paul Maurice said. "Our goaltender, in the first period again, then some great plays."
McBain scored his first goal 47 seconds after Cammalleri scored a power-play goal for the Habs to trim Carolina's lead to 2-1. McBain unloaded from the right point for his sixth of the season.
Pitkanen then picked up his fourth on a blast from between the circles at 9:03 of the second. Skinner earned an assist for his third point of the night and was plus-4 for the first time in his rookie season.
Skinner scored with 8:59 left in the first after a dump-in by Jiri Tlusty, then forechecking by Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu, who separated Brent Sopel from the puck. Skinner grabbed it near the left circle and blasted a shot past Carey Price.
Skinner helped keep the puck in the zone, then scored off a Ruutu pass for the second goal. Skinner faked a forehand, then went backhand against Price, who was pulled after the second period for Alex Auld.
"That Ruutu line was so good last night," Maurice said. "You wonder how much Ruutu can give on a back-to-back. Then he throws that hit (on Sopel). That's inspirational to the rest of the hockey club."
Skinner scored in the third period and had a shootout goal in the Canes' win over the Caps. He has five goals in his last six games.
"He plays his best hockey in the big games," Maurice said.
Subban scored a power-play goal in the third but McBain answered again and Cory Stillman later added a power-play score. The Canes now have scored power-play goals in four straight games for the first time this season.
"Our ability to answer back on both (Montreal) goals quickly was very, very important," Maurice said. "They had some great chances and we did, too. Our goaltender was the difference in the early part until it broke open."
Ruutu, who had two assists, forced a 12-minute delay in the third period. He slammed defenseman Hall Gill into a stanchion near the Canes' bench, shattering the glass.
"He really brings a unique element to our team," Maurice said.