RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes are threatening to move up in the Metropolitan Division, thanks in part to the play of young forward Sebastian Aho and veteran goalie Cam Ward.
Aho scored two goals in the third period, and the Hurricanes beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 on Wednesday night.
Aho's power-play goal midway through the third put Carolina in front, and he later added an empty-netter. The 20-year-old Finn now has 10 goals this season.
Ward, who led the Hurricanes to the 2006 Stanley Cup at age 22, is 9-2-1 after stopping 23 shots on Wednesday.
"There was a little bit of rust early on," Ward said. "I made some good saves. Technically some of them weren't the prettiest. I'd like to make the saves, and that's what matters most. Guys obviously took care of themselves throughout the break and we were prepared to pounce tonight."
Teuvo Teravainen scored Carolina's other goal, while Alex Galchenyuk tallied for Montreal.
Carolina has won five straight home games and six of seven overall.
It was the first of three meetings between the teams this season. Carolina will visit Montreal on Jan. 25 and host the game on Feb. 1.
"There were a lot of good things in that game," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "You never know what you're going to get, right? I liked our start and I liked our finish. It's a little nerve-wracking coming off the three days, but we have to do it two more times so we have to do a good job again."
Montreal goalie Carey Price stopped 32 shots.
Carolina captain Jordan Staal played in his 800th NHL game.
"We've continued to work hard," Staal said. "We're showing up every night. Our special teams have been better, and our goalies have been really, really good. Everyone's playing to win and it has been good."
The Hurricanes led 1-0 after outshooting Montreal 16-6 in the first period.
Teravainen got Carolina on the board at 4:44 of the first with his ninth goal of the season, beating Price from the right circle off Justin Faulk's pass. The helper gave Faulk points in three straight games.
Galchenyuk tied it at 5:19 of the second, beating Ward over the glove-side shoulder on a rush for his ninth of the season with Jeff Petry on the sole assist.
"Carey Price kept us in, and in the first period we needed a goaltender to keep us in," Montreal coach Claude Julien said. "He gave us a chance to at least try to win ourselves a hockey game."
Aho put the Hurricanes up 2-1 on a power play at 9:15 of the third, beating Price stick side. He scored his second goal with 1:34 left.
NOTES: With his 800th game, Staal became the second player in his 2006 draft class behind Phil Kessel (who now has 870) to reach the milestone. ... Montreal associate coach Kirk Muller was Carolina's head coach from 2011-14. ... D David Schlemko (flu) was scratched for Montreal, while C Bryon Froese and LW Jacob de la Rose were healthy extras. ... Carolina RW Josh Jooris and D Haydn Fleury were healthy scratches.
Canadiens: Visit Tampa Bay on Thursday night in the fifth of a six-game trip.
Hurricanes: Host Pittsburgh on Friday night to close a three-game homestand.
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Mike Potter, The Associated Press