Montreal jumped out to a two-goal first period lead and Carolina couldn't crack Carey Price, who earned his eighth shutout of the year in the Canadiens 4-0 home win over the Hurricanes.
1. Game 1 of the "experiment" of moving Eric Staal back to center didn't result in much offense out of the Hurricanes, who were shut out by Montreal despite having some legitimate scoring chances. Still, it’s what coach Bill Peters and the franchise need to do in order to look ahead in the season’s final few weeks. There's no question that Jordan Staal and Victor Rask can be penciled in as two-thirds of Carolina’s top three centers, but the question of who fills the other spot (Eric Staal? Elias Lindholm? Someone not on the roster?) is one of the big questions of this coming offseason. By trying everything and everyone throughout the lineup, the Hurricanes are being smart about how they are using the rest of these games as they play out the string.
2. Carolina’s defense was overwhelmed by Montreal’s speed and skill Thursday, but there were a few highlights. For one, Justin Faulk continues to play the best hockey of his career and has firmly established himself as a No. 1 defenseman, perhaps even one of the 10 best in the NHL. Secondly, rookie Danny Biega didn't seem out of place in his NHL debut. His strength was never in doubt — he's a known gym rat — but his acceleration was impressive and he has a good first pass coming out of the zone.
3. Speaking of Faulk, he seems to be taking any partner he's paired up with along for the ride. Faulk had a game-best plus-14 Corsi rating. Second? Michal Jordan, his partner for the night, of course. Faulk’s Corsi climb, even without Andrej Sekera, is quite impressive.
Number To Know
12 — Different defenseman who have played for Carolina this season after Biega made his NHL debut in Montreal.
Brad Malone — There wasn't much to like overall, but Malone finished with six hits in 12:13 of ice time to extend his team lead with 140 on the season.
Jeff Skinner — It was another off night for Skinner, who seemed to try to do too much on the couple of opportunities he did have. The advanced stats — which are usually in Skinner’s favor — show that as well. Skinner was on the ice for a team-low six Corsi for shot attempts and was the low forward with a minus-5 Corsi differential. Since seemingly breaking through with his first two-goal game of the season March 8, Skinner has no goals and one assist in his past six games.