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Game preview: MTL @ CAR

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

CANADIENS (23-14-3) @ HURRICANES (14-16-9)

The Habs will wrap up the calendar year with a trip to North Carolina, taking on the Hurricanes on the final day of 2013.

Michel Therrien’s team will attempt to get back on track after a 4-1 loss against the Florida Panthers on Sunday. Brandon Prust scored Montreal’s lone goal, while Peter Budaj was beaten three times on 23 shots against. The Canadiens are 2-2 so far on their end-of-year roadtrip.

The Hurricanes will be back in action in front of their fans after taking on the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Sunday. The Leafs came out on top 5-2 despite goals from Nathan Gerbe and Justin Faulk. Cam Ward made 19 saves and took his seventh loss in 18 appearances this season.

Unsurprisingly, Eric Staal remains the Hurricanes’ go-to offensive player, leading the team with 30 points in 39 games. The veteran has however been shut out in his last two outings. Jeff Skinner, despite missing 11 games earlier in the season due to an upper-body injury, is second in team scoring with 14 goals and 10 assists.

Tomas Plekanec and Daniel Briere will be the players to watch against Carolina, they who have historically performed well against the team. Plekanec has 32 points in 30 career games against the ‘Canes, while Briere has 29 in 36 so far.

After getting a night off Sunday at Sunrise, Carey Price should be back between the pipes in Raleigh. Price has been strong against Carolina since breaking into the NHL, posting an 8-5-0-1 record and a goals against average of 2.44 in 14 games. His counterpart will most likely be Cam Ward, who has 14 wins against Montreal since 2005-06.

Tuesday’s game will be the first of three between the clubs this season, the Habs having swept the three-game season series in 2012-13. Max Pacioretty, Brandon Prust and Lars Eller had been the team’s most productive players against Kirk Muller’s squad, each recording four points in three games.

The Canadiens will be playing on New Year’s Eve for a 37th time since the team’s inception in 1909, going 18-13-5 in that span.

The puck drops at 7:00PM E.S.T.; happy New Year!

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