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Game preview: MTL @ CAR

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

CANADIENS (31-21-6) vs. HURRICANES (26-21-9)

On Saturday night, the Canadiens play their final game before the Olympic break in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Canadiens are coming off a conclusive 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Carey Price stopped 42 of 44 shots, David Desharnais had two assist and Max Pacioretty paced the Montreal offense with his third career hat trick. In addition, Pacioretty made NHL history by becoming the first player to earn two penalty shot opportunities in the same period. Newcomer Dale Weise scored his first point as a Hab by assisting on Ryan White’s first period goal.

On Friday night, the Hurricanes dismissed the Florida Panthers 5-1. Five different scorers lit the lamp for Carolina. Eric Staal had an assist and a +3 rating, while Jeff Skinner had two points. Anton Khudobin made 34 saves on 35 shots.

The Hurricane offensive has been resurgent in past weeks, which is good news for coach Kirk Muller and his staff. When scoring three goals or more this season, the ‘Canes are a remarkable 20-3-2. Alex Semin, who will be suiting up for Team Russia in Sochi, has been producing at a point-per-game pace in his past ten outings. Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty have also been contributing offensively, while Olympians Andrej Sekera (Slovakia) and Justin Faulk (USA) continue to lead the Carolina defense corps in points and minutes played.

Cam Ward’s 2013-14 campaign has been derailed by injury and poor form. The Hurricane’s starting netminder had allowed three goals or more in his last eight starts and, due to a lower-body ailment, has not played since posting a win against Montreal on New Year’s Eve 2014. In his absence, Anton Khudobin has taken over the starting job in Raleigh. The Russian netminder has been solid, posting a 13-5 record and a team-high .929 saves percentage this season.

Injured for the Habs are Michael Bournival and Travis Moen. Neither will make the trip to Carolina and are day-to-day.

The Habs won 3-0 at the Bell Centre in the team’s last match-up on January 28 2014. In its past four games in Raleigh, the Canadiens are 2-0-2, with three of those games going into extra time.

Exceptionally, puck drop will be at 6:00 PM E.S.T.

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