Carolina Hurricanes' Andrej Sekera (4), of Slovakia, defends Montreal Canadiens' Brian Gionta (21) as Gionta scores an empty-net goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. Montreal won 4-1. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
RALEIGH, N.C. - The Montreal Canadiens needed a little time to get up to speed in their final game before the Olympic break. When they did, they left behind the Carolina Hurricanes.
David Desharnais scored twice and the Canadiens rallied for a 4-1 victory Saturday night.
"We had a little slump a couple of weeks ago and we wanted to get out of it," Desharnais said. "We did and we want to stay up in the standings and with these three wins, we did. That was our goal."
Ryan White and Brian Gionta also scored and Carey Price made 31 saves to help the Canadiens win their third in a row.
"It was nice to finish before the break with another win," said Price, set to play for Canada in the Olympics. "We talked about staying focused and earning that one and it worked out for us. Confidence in hockey is a big thing and to finish strong like this is good,"
Montreal left wing Max Pacioretty, a member of the U.S. team, suffered a first-period injury after being checked into the goal by Carolina's Brett Bellemore. He left with 7:30 left in the first period and did not return.
After the game, Pacioretty said it was all precautionary for his to sit out the rest of the game.
"I went in pretty hard and I got the wind knocked out of me," Pacioretty said. "I think the team wanted to play it safe and I think it was a good decision."
After a scoreless first period, Carolina got on the scoreboard first in the second period.
Drayson Bowman scored his fourth goal of the season with a rising shot from the top of the right circle at 5:42. Bowman took advantage of Tuomo Ruutu's screen that kept Price from making a play on the puck.
But the rest of the game belonged to the Canadiens.
"We responded the right way," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "Even though they scored the first goal, we started playing well."
Desharnais tied it with 2:08 left in the second, converting a 3-on-2 rush.
It took only 1:25 for Montreal to take the lead as White scored on a rebound at the top of the crease with 42.7 seconds left in the period.
Desharnais gave Montreal some breathing room early in the third period with his 11th goal of the season. It marked his first multi-goal game of the season.
Gionta finished the scoring for Montreal with an empty-netter with 2:37 to go.
Carolina defenceman Justin Faulk said the Hurricanes didn't play with energy.
"We didn't have the drive and the effort we needed," said Faulk, who also is on the U.S. Olympic team. "In a game like this, especially before the break, we needed to leave it all out there. It didn't go our way."
Neither team took advantage of their power-play opportunities. Montreal was 0 for 1 with the man-advantage, and Carolina failed on two power plays.
NOTES: Carolina C Riley Nash extended his point streak to a career-best three games. ... Hurricanes D Justin Faulk matched his season-best points total with 22, picking up an assist.