Hurricanes Record: 24-19-9 (57 pts.)
Canadiens Record: 27-20-5 (59 pts.)
The Canes played a hard fought game against the Columbus Blue Jackets last night, fighting poor ice conditions and an early two goal deficit. Eric Staal came up big in the third period with two goals one minute apart to tie the game up before Jordan Staal added what would become the game winner just a short time later. With that win the Canes jumped in to third place in the Metropolitan division and in to playoff position.
This being an Olympic year the Canes were rewarded for their victory with a quick flight to Montreal and a game tonight against the Canadiens. The Canes are traveling in to Quebec to take on a Canadiens team that has lost four straight games. This will by no means be an easy contest. The Canes are not "catching the Habs at the right time" as the saying goes. After an 0-5 loss to the Caps Saturday the Habs had a players only meeting. Since then they've been resting and stewing, waiting for the Canes to come to town tonight. There is no doubt that the Habs will look to give the Canes their best shot and take advantage of the Canes having played last night.
This will be the first meeting between the two teams since New Year's Eve. Caniacs will remember that as one of the most exciting games of the season. Montreal took a 3-0 lead in to the third on goals from Lars Eller and Max Pacioretty (2) before Jeff Skinner scored two goals and Eric Staal tied the game just over 4 minutes in to the third. The game would head to overtime tied at four before Alexander Semin scored 3:27 in to overtime to give the Canes a big win. That game was the start of the Canes current hot streak. Including that game in Montreal the Canes are 10-3, including last nights game win over Columbus.
No word yet on what lines we may see out of Montreal or who may be the starter in net. The Habs have been tweaking their lines since their last game against Washington.
The Canes keep finding ways to stay hot. In late December and early January it was Jeff Skinner with the hot hand. As he cooled off Alexander Semin started to catch fire as did Andrej Sekera who was recently named the third star of the week for the NHL. After last night it looks the captain Eric Staal is starting to heat up. Eric has been playing some great hockey of late, racking up lots of points. But last night, Eric Staal took over the game in the third period, something that Eric has not done a lot so far this season. When Jordan Staal added a third goal to give the Canes a lead it was a big night for the Staal's and the Canes.
Will Eric Staal continue on his hot streak? Will another Cane, perhaps the czech Jiri Tlusty, who has been playing some of his best hockey of late, be the hero tonight? Will Anton Khudobin stay hot or will Justin Peters get a chance to avenge his rough start against Tampa a few games back?
As always the game thread will open 30 minutes before game time. We look forward to seeing you there. Go Canes!