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Game Preview: Carolina Hurricanes vs. Montreal Canadiens 3-7-13

Can the Hurricanes continue their winning streak by knocking off the team leading the Eastern Conference?

Richard Wolowicz

Carolina Hurricanes vs Montreal Canadiens
Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 7:00 pm EST
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
TV - Sports South - Radio - 99.9 The Fan

SB Nation Canadiens Blog: Eyes on the Prize (twitter @HabsEOTP)

Hurricanes Record: 13-8-1 (27 pts.)
Canadiens Record: 14-5-4 (32 pts.)

*** Broadcast Note: This game will not be broadcast on the regular Fox Sports Carolinas stations in the local viewing area due to a prior conflict. Sports South will carry the game; Sports South is a standard channel on Dish Network (452) and DirectTV (647SD/647-1HD), and TWC will move the broadcast over to their "special events" channels (520SD/1520HD in the Triangle). ***

Tonight is the second of three games this season between the Hurricanes and the Canadiens, and the only one Canes fans will see in PNC Arena during the regular season. The last meeting ended in a frustrating 3-0 loss at the Bell Centre on February 18th. The Habs last played on Tuesday night and lost to the New York Islanders 6-3 in Uniondale. The Hurricanes defeated the Sabres 4-3 on Tuesday night in Raleigh.

Hurricanes Notes

The Hurricanes come into tonight's game with a four-game winning streak, outscoring opponents 17-8 over that stretch. It's no coincidence that the top line of Eric Staal, Alexander Semin, and Jiri Tlusty also have four-game points streaks. The lethal trio has combined for 24 points over the last four games and 69 points over the season. Staal and Semin are tied for the league lead in plus/minus (+17), and Staal is tied for sixth in goals (12) and tied fourth in points (28). Staal logged his 600th NHL point with his assist on the Jiri Tlusty's goal in Tuesday's game.

Jussi Jokinen has seen a bit of a resurgence after moving from center to wing alongside Riley Nash and Patrick Dwyer on the third line. Jokinen has five points (3 goals, 2 assists) in the last three games.

Justin Peters was wrapping up a 33-save win for the Charlotte Checkers against the Oklahoma City Barons on Sunday night when Cam Ward went down with a knee injury. Two nights later, in another unexpected turn of events (lingering illness for Dan Ellis), Peters makes his first NHL start of the season, and makes it count with several highlight reel saves (watch the one on Thomas Vanek again) in a 37-save win. Team defense limited shots in the first period and allowed Peters to get into an early groove, but he faced 34 shots in the second and third period. Peters skated Wednesday a limited practice session but Dan Ellis did not. Head coach Kirk Muller said that tonight's goaltending decision would be made after today's morning skate.

On the injury front: Tim Brent (lower body) practiced with the team on Wednesday and is listed as day-to-day. Joni Pitkanen (lower body) and Chad LaRose (concussion) did not practice and are also listed as day-to-day. Tuomo Ruutu (hip) remains injured non-roster and Cam Ward (knee) remains on injured reserve.

Latest lines:

Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin
Jeff Skinner - Jordan Staal - Tim Wallace
Jussi Jokinen - Riley Nash - Patrick Dwyer
Drayson Bowman - Brett Sutter - Kevin Westgarth

Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Tim Gleason - Joe Corvo
Bobby Sanguinetti - Jamie McBain

Dan Ellis
Justin Peters

Canes News Clips

Kirk Muller audio from yesterday's practice
Kirk Muller interview yesterday on HNIC Radio
Alexander Semin - English-translated interview from Sovietsky Sport
Hurricanes Rink Report - features video from Justin Peters and Bobby Sanguinetti

Canadiens Notes

The Canadiens are leading the Eastern Conference. They lost against the Islanders on Tuesday night but are racking up the points otherwise with a 6-1-3 record in their last 10 games. Prior to the loss Tuesday night, the Canadiens had not lost in regulation since February 9th in Toronto.

Forward Max Pacioretty leads the Habs in points with 20 (8 goals, 12 assists) and Tomas Plekanec leads the team in goals with 10 (15 points total). Pacioretty and Plekanec both factored into the win against the Hurricanes on February 18, scoring two goals 18 seconds apart in the third period to seal a 3-0 shutout win.

Plekanec has scored in his last two games. Forward Brian Gionta has four goals in four games, and defenseman P.K. Subban is riding a four-game point streak.

Goaltender Carey Price was solid early in the season but has struggled as of late. In net Tuesday he gave up 5 goals on 23 shots, and allowed 12 goals on 59 shots in his last two games (both losses). Price skated in an optional practice session in Raleigh yesterday (along with Petteri Nokelainen, Alex Galchenyuk, Gabriel Dumont, Tomas Kaberle, Yannick Weber, and Peter Budaj) and is ready to go tonight if called upon, although head coach Michel Therrien does not intend to make the announcement until today.

If Price is in net, he brings a 6-5-1 record with a 2.60 GAA and one shutout in 12 appearances against the Hurricanes. Backup Peter Budaj is 2-1-1 with a 1.23 GAA and one shutout in the game on February 18th.

The Canadiens are without forwards Rene Bourque (concussion) and Petteri Nokelainen (lower body) and defenseman Raphael Diaz (concussion).

Brian will have more analysis on our opponent later in the day, and we'll start the game thread at 6:30 pm. See you at the rink.