Once again finding life on the road to their liking, the Montreal Canadiens got a hat trick from Vladimir Malakhov in a 6-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night.
Malakhov scored twice in the first period, helping Montreal build a pair of three-goal leads in the first 24 minutes on the way to improving to 8-0-2 away from home since Christmas. The Canadiens are 1-4-0 at the Molson Centre in the same span.
Montreal's Mark Recchi added two assists and Eric Houde had his first NHL goal as the Canadiens improved their Eastern Conference-leading road record to 17-8-2.
Carolina, returning from a six-game road trip, couldn't recover after the Canadiens built leads of 3-0 and 4-1.
The Hurricanes, who had won both previous meetings with Montreal this season, got a goal and an assist from Sami Kapanen and two assists from Steve Chiasson.
Montreal came in with the NHL's most effective power play on the road, and the Canadiens capitalized on power plays for two of their first three goals.
Malakhov hadn't scored since Jan. 7, but his two goals and Houde's tip-in of his own miss helped the Canadiens to a 4-1 lead early in the second period.
Second-chance goals by Kapanen and Robert Kron cut Montreal's lead to one, setting up what the Hurricanes thought was the tying score late in the second period.
Jocelyn Thibault kicked away a wrist shot by Paul Ranheim, but the puck flew up in the air in front of the goal mouth. Carolina's Kent Manderville swooped in and used his stick to bat the puck out of the air and into the net, but the referees used video replays to determine that Manderville's stick was higher than the allowed top of the cross bar when he swung at the puck.
Less than three minutes later, Martin Rucinsky made it 5-3 when he blasted a 45-footer past Trevor Kidd.
Malakhov added an empty-netter with 1:21 left in the game.