Carolina Hurricanes at Montreal Canadiens
Monday, April 1, 2013 - 7:30 pm EDT
Bell Centre - Montreal, Que
TV - Sports South Radio - 99.9 The Fan
Hurricanes Record: 16-15-2 (34 pts.)
Canadiens Record: 22-7-5 (49 pts.)
Tonight is the third and final game of the regular season series between the Hurricanes and the Canadiens. The Habs hold the 2-0 win record against the Canes this season. The first game was a frustrating 3-0 shutout loss at the Bell Centre on February 18th. In the second game, the Hurricanes rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie the Canadiens but fell short in a 4-2 loss at PNC Arena on March 7th. The Habs last played on Saturday night and shut out the New York Rangers 3-0 in Montreal, and the Hurricanes defeated the Jets 3-1 on Saturday afternoon in Winnipeg.
Tonight's game is the first of a back-to-back for the Hurricanes as they will return to PNC Arena to face the Washington Capitals tomorrow night.
The Hurricanes were winless in seven straight games before their 3-1 bounceback win on Saturday afternoon against the Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg Jets. Alexander Semin, Jussi Jokinen, and Eric Staal scored for the Hurricanes, and Justin Peters had an impressive 34 saves in net.
Tuomo Ruutu, playing in only his fourth game since returning from hip surgery, assisted on the first two goals and was making his physical presence known before leaving the game early with a reported lower body concern.
The Hurricanes flew out of Winnipeg Saturday night and held a practice Sunday afternoon in Montreal. There is little known from the practice other than a few brief updates on twitter. Ruutu did not practice and his status is "touch and go" for tonight. Chad LaRose, who was out with flu symptoms and did not travel with the team to Winnipeg, arrived in Montreal and practiced on Sunday and will be back in the line-up. Justin Faulk (IR, knee) also skated in gear, but prior to the team practice.
No update as of yet on goaltender Dan Ellis, who traveled with the team and should be close to returning to the line-up after suffering a cut to his leg on March 21st. If he is activated from IR, expect him to back up Justin Peters in net, otherwise John Muse will remain in that spot.
Cam Ward (knee) and Bobby Sanguinetti (upper body) remain on IR as well. Adam Hall missed Saturday's game with a lower body injury and is day-to-day.
Here's how the team lined up on Saturday:
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin
Tuomo Ruutu - Jordan Staal - Patrick Dwyer
Jeff Skinner - Riley Nash - Jussi Jokinen
Drayson Bowman - Tim Brent - Kevin Westgarth
Tim Gleason - Joe Corvo
Joni Pitkanen - Jamie McBain
Jay Harrison - Brett Bellemore
With the shutout win over the Rangers Saturday night, the Canadiens ended the month of March with an impressive 9-3-2 record, good enough for second in the Eastern Conference and first in the Northeast Division.
The Habs are able to win despite having a single dominant scoring threat. No one player has 30 points, but seven players have more than 20 points. Forward Michael Ryder leads the team in scoring with 28 points, but it's defenseman P.K. Subban who has the hot scoring touch. After missing the first six games, Subban has 27 points in 28 games and is tied for second in the NHL in scoring for defensemen. Rookie Brendan Gallagher is also making his mark with goals in his last two games.
The Habs have not announced a starting goaltender. Carey Price, who was called out by coach Michel Therrien as "phenomenal" in Saturday's 34-save shutout, has a 17-6-4 record with 3 shutouts, a 2.28 GAA, and .915 save percentage. Backup Peter Budaj is equally impressive with a 5-1-1 record with 1 shutout, a 2.47 GAA and .906 save percentage. Both have wins against the Hurricanes this season (Budaj with the shutout).
Defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who spent part of the 2011-12 season with the Hurricanes before being traded to the Canadiens, was placed on waivers on Saturday and cleared waivers yesterday.
The Canadiens opened up the Bell Center with a public practice on Easter Sunday with over 17,000 fans in attendance (read about it here).
Forwards Rene Bourque (concussion) and Ryan White (lower body) are out of the lineup, along with defenseman Raphael Diaz (concussion).
The game thread will open at 7:00 (note later start time tonight).