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NHL: Hurricanes closing in on Southeast Division title

RALEIGH, Noreth Carolina (AP) _ Point by point, the Carolina Hurricanes are inching toward the Southeast Division title.

No team in the NHL has played more games (70), played more overtime games (25) or finished with so many ties (14).

For the seventh straight home game, the Hurricanes left without a win or a loss Monday night, extending their NHL record for consecutive ties. They are closing in on the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second straight season and third time in the five years since they moved to North Carolina.

After a 1-1 tie with the Montreal Canadiens, Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice won't argue with his 10-point lead in the division standings and one of the top three playoff seeds that goes with it, but he would like a different ending in the home games.

``I think were all pretty much sick of it,'' Maurice said. ``If it's like kissing your sister, were just going to have to marry the girl because this is getting to be obscene.''

While Carolina goalie Arturs Irbe was pulled for a sixth skater in the last minute, winger Sami Kapanen tied the game after a scramble in front of Montreal goalie Jose Theodore.

Kapanen collected a loose puck and flicked a wrist shot under the crossbar. The puck bounced back into play, and in the confusion of the scrum, the game continued and the clock expired.

The teams were ready to leave the ice, then the referees reviewed the play, credited Kapanen with the goal and put 10.4 seconds back on the clock.

``I thought it wasn't in,'' said Theodore, who stopped 41 shots. ``I thought it hit the crossbar because I was screened on the first shot. When I saw the replay, it was in.''

Carolina took six shots on Theodore in overtime, including a breakaway by rookie winger Erik Cole with 1:06 left, but it couldn't break through for its first home win in nine games (0-1-8) since Jan. 15.

The Canadiens, trying to make the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, increased their advantage on the New York Rangers for the eighth conference playoff position to two points.

Montreal looked like it would win after Richard Zednik scored at 7:13 of the third, pulling Irbe (25 saves) out of the crease and firing into an empty net.

``Sure, its tough to lose a point, to lose a win in 10 seconds,'' Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. ``If somebody said we'd have three points out of four against the Hurricanes, I would have taken it.''

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