Guy Carbonneau scored twice, including a shorthanded goal, and the Canadiens scored three times in the first period tonight en route to a 5-3 victory over the Hartford Whalers and a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven Adams Division final series.
Montreal can advance to the Wales Conference final against the winner of the Capitals-Rangers series with a victory in Game 6, set for Sunday in Hartford.
Montreal got its first power-play goal at 2:05 when rookie Claude Lemieux deflected a weak slap shot by Chris Chelios between the legs of Hartford goalie Steve Weeks, who replaced the injured Mike Liut for the third straight game.
Carbonneau gave the Canadiens a 2-0 lead at 8:26 during a tripping penalty to Lemieux. Bob Gainey went around Ron Francis at the Hartford blue line, creating a two-on-one with Carbonneau against defenseman Mike McEwen. Gainey drew Weeks to the right side of the net and made a cross-ice pass to Carbonneau, who tipped it in.
The third goal produced by the Canadiens' special teams came on a power play at 12:45 when onrushing Mats Naslund deflected Bobby Smith's pass from the boards into the right side of the net.
Hartford scored at 15:46 after John Anderson blocked an attempted clearing pass by Chelios in the Montreal end. The puck was passed from Anderson to Ray Ferraro to Kevin Dineen, who slipped it under goalie Patrick Roy.
The teams traded goals in the second period, when Hartford outshot Montreal by 12-5. Dineen scored his second goal at 14:14.
Montreal went up by 4-2 at 16:07 when defenseman Mike Lalor scored on a delayed holding penalty to Hartford's Dave Tippett. Lalor took a pass from Larry Robinson and scored on a high wrist shot.
Anderson brought Hartford within one goal at 9:58 of the third period. But Carbonneau scored his second goal of the game at 18:41.