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Game Preview: Canadiens vs. Hurricanes

The Canes return home after a big win in Nashville.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Special teams, net-front presence, and Sebastian Aho were the key factors in a strong 5-2 win over Nashville last night.

This evening, the Carolina Hurricanes return home to do more of the same versus a streaking Montreal squad.

The Habs are in the midst of a seven-game road trip, but have been road warriors this season.

The Canadiens are 8-4-3 as visitors this season and are 2-0-1 on their current road trip.

Montreal’s point streak extends to December 13 and is 3-0-2 over that period.

As of late, the Habs are receiving contributions from many players, with seven different goal-scorers during this five-game stretch.

Captain Nick Suzuki has a five-game point streak heading into tonight’s game.

Josh Anderson and Juraj Slafkovsky both have five points in the last five games.

One of the weak spots on this Canadiens team is the penalty kill.

Montreal has killed 73 percent of their penalties this season, ranking 29th in the NHL.

After last night’s great performance on the power play, the Canes have scored on five of their last ten, and are scoring on 36 percent of their chances since December 1.

If Carolina can get a couple chances on the power play, it may be the difference-maker tonight.

Last night, we saw the Aho we love to see.

But besides Aho’s dominant play and some great puck movement on the power play, the most encouraging part of last night’s game was Carolina’s forecheck and net-front presence.

The forecheck was executed at a level that is expected from a Rod Brind’Amour team.

But the bodies in the slot have been a missing element from Carolina’s game.

The screen on Brent Burns’s goal, plus the action in front on three other Canes goals were due to the net-front presence.

These were high-percentage plays and the hard work paid off for Andrei Svechnikov, Jack Drury, and Seth Jarvis.

Let’s hope this is a trend that continues.

The biggest question tonight is Carolina’s goaltender.

On the second night of a back-to-back, does Brind’Amour tap Antti Raanta for the start after a tumultuous two weeks?

With a full house expected at PNC Arena tonight, last night’s great performance, and Raanta’s historical success on home ice, perhaps tonight has all the ingredients to get Raanta back on track.

Check out Canes Country later today for more updates on starting lineups.

Here’s how to check out the action:

  • Time: 7:00 PM ET
  • Location: PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC
  • TV: Bally Sports South with Mike Maniscalco, play-by-play; Tripp Tracy, color analyst; Hanna Yates, in-game reporter; Shane Willis, analyst.
  • Radio: 99.9 The Fan
  • Line: ML: CAR -260; PL: CAR +1.5 -102