Kochetkov posts 4th shutout, Hurricanes win 3-0 in Montreal

Hurricanes goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov is congratulated by teammate Brent Burns after Carolina defeated the Canadiens 3-0 Saturday in Montreal. (Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press via AP)

MONTREAL — Pyotr Kochetkov made 26 saves for his fourth shutout of the season to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 on Saturday night.

Jordan Staal opened the scoring with a short-handed goal midway through the second period, Sebastian Aho connected on a power play early in the third and Seth Jarvis iced it with an empty-netter. Carolina is the only team in the NHL that ranks in the top three in both power-play and penalty-kill efficiency.

“In a game like tonight where that’s the difference, you want all the parts of your game clicking, but those are two crucial areas,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “The first couple shifts of the third, we were a little sluggish, but the goaltending was really key, it kept us in it. Goaltending and special teams were the difference.”

Carolina improved to 47-21-7. Montreal fell to 28-33-12. The Canadiens had won three in a row.

“This was a difficult game, but you can’t be frustrated because a team is difficult to play against,” Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said. “This has been a top team in the league for some time now and they’re a veteran team that’s always on the same page. They don’t have too many holes in their collective game.”

After a turnover at the Hurricanes’ blue line, Staal jumped on a loose puck, finishing off the short-handed breakaway with a shot neatly tucked over Sam Montembeault’s shoulder. Montreal has allowed an NHL-high 12 short-handed goals.

“I thought we were patient, and we didn’t get frustrated,” Staal said. “It always helps being in the lead, especially in this league. It’s hard to score goals, and I think they made a really good push in the second, but (Pyotr Kochetkov) made some big saves.”

The Hurricanes doubled the lead after a fortuitous bounce of the puck left Aho with a wide-open net for his 33rd of the season. Jarvis added his 29th.

Montembeault made 27 saves.

The Hurricanes host Boston on Thursday.