Rookie Kjell Dahlin had one goal and one assist and rookie goaltender Patrick Roy stopped 20 shots tonight to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-1 victory over the Hartford Whalers and a two-games-to-one lead in their Adams Division playoff series.

Montreal's rookie contingent at forward guided the offense. Besides Dahlin, Stephane Richer and Claude Lemieux also had goals. The only veteran Canadien to score was Guy Carbonneau -- an empty-net goal with 1:22 left -- as Montreal won its second straight game against Hartford.

It was the first time the Whalers have lost two straight games since March 1.

Game 4 of the Adams Division final will be played here Wednesday night.

"Our rookies got a lot of playing time during the season and now they're reacting like veterans," Montreal Coach Jean Perron said. "We knew they could play in the NHL."

The Canadiens' defense continually frustrated Hartford, which was the highest scoring team in the division during the regular season. Roy proved equal to all but one of the Whalers' few quality opportunities.

"I have to give the credit to my defense," said Roy, a 20-year-old whose goals-against average in the playoffs dipped below 2.00. "We need that performance from everybody if we are going to beat the Whalers. And if everybody plays that well, we are going to beat the Whalers."

Carbonneau, in particular, played superbly on defense. He was given the assignment of shadowing the Whalers' top scorers.

"When you hold a player like Ron Francis to one shot on goal, you've got to give credit to your defensive specialist [Carbonneau]," Perron said.

As they did in Game 2, the Canadiens took a 2-0 lead in the opening period. Dahlin scored his first goal of the playoffs 4:48 into the game. He missed the net with a wrist shot, but after Hartford failed to clear the puck, Bobby Smith received a pass from Mats Naslund and centered to Dahlin, who fired a 30-foot slap shot past goaltender Mike Liut.

At 18:43, Richer batted a rebound past goaltender Steve Weeks, who came in to replace the injured Liut with 7:58 remaining in the period.

Liut suffered a bruised right knee, resulting from a pregame warm-up shot, but was expected to return for Wednesday's game. Weeks had not been in a playoff game in four years.

Lemieux scored his fourth goal of the playoffs at 4:09 of the second period to make it 3-0.

Dave Tippett replied for Hartford 32 seconds later to make it 3-1 going into the final period.