RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Two nights after a bad loss on the road, Jeff Skinner helped the last-place Carolina Hurricanes bounce back at home against the top team in the Eastern Conference.
Skinner's second goal of the game late in the third period lifted the Hurricanes to a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
Joakim Nordstrom also scored and Cam Ward stopped 36 shots for Carolina, which ended a three-game losing streak.
''The win is big no matter what,'' Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. ''We needed to win. We didn't play well on our last out and we needed to bounce back. And credit to the guys, but we need to validate this win tomorrow (against Arizona).''
Carolina was coming off a 5-1 loss at New Jersey on Thursday night.
Daniel Carr and Sven Andrighetto had goals for Montreal, and Mike Condon finished with 26 saves. The Canadiens, currently the runaway leaders in the East, won all three meetings last season.
''It was a tough game to play,'' said Montreal coach Michel Therrien, whose team has lost two straight including 3-2 against visiting Washington on Thursday night. ''Emotionally it was a tough game to play.''
Skinner deflected Brett Pesce's shot into the net on the power play with 7:32 remaining to break the 2-2 tie.
Nordstrom had tied it with 6:45 left in the second as he knocked in the rebound of Andrej Nestrasil's shot past Condon stick-side.
The Canadiens got on the board quickly on Carr's wraparound 2:44 into the game for his first NHL goal.
Skinner tied it with 6:45 left in the opening period, circling the goal before roofing the puck past Condon stick-side.
''It's a good feeling,'' said Skinner, who picked up his seventh goal. ''It was going to be a big test. After last game we needed to bounce back. We needed to create some momentum for the next game and get on a bit of a roll. It's nice to roof one, especially when you haven't done one for a while. It's always a nice feeling, and I'll look to try and get some more of those.''
Andrighetto put the Canadiens up 2-1 with 8:41 to go in the second, taking Jeff Petry's centering pass from the left and ticking it past Ward five-hole.
''They're a very strong team and at the top of the standings for a reason,'' said Ward, who improved to 8-8-3. ''They play a very tight game and tonight we rose to the occasion. We matched them very well and got it done.''
Carolina had an apparent goal by Eric Staal disallowed 14 seconds into the third period.
To preserve the win the Hurricanes had to kill off as late penalty, with Therrien opting to play 6-on-4 after Eric Staal's delay of game penalty at 16:44.
NOTES: LW Phillip Di Giuseppe made his NHL debut for the Hurricanes. ... Carolina plays again on Sunday afternoon against Arizona. ... Montreal hosts Boston on Wednesday. ... RW Devante Smith-Pelly (lower body) missed his second straight game for Montreal, while D Greg Pateryn and D Jarred Tinordi were healthy scratches. ... C Riley Nash, RW Kris Versteeg, D Michal Jordan were healthy scratches for Carolina ... The other meetings between the teams this season are at Montreal on Feb. 7 and back in Raleigh on April 7.