MONTREAL -- The Carolina Hurricanes face a tough task Tuesday in taking on the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.
Carolina saw its losing streak reach five games after a 5-1 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Hurricanes coach Bill Peters sees hope though, despite his team's 8-18-3 record.
"Obviously we didn't like our effort in Philadelphia," Peters said after Carolina's morning skate. "We've probably had two or three like that this year where we've been disappointed with ourselves, but other than that we've played well and it's been a one-goal game with five minutes to go one way or the other just about every night, so you're in every game and you've got to find a way to make that one more play to make a difference."
Hurricanes center Jay McClement and defenseman John-Michael Liles are game-time decisions because of illness. Peters said neither player is at risk of the mumps, which have sidelined a number of NHL players this season, including Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
"It's obviously a scare for everybody in the League, but that's not the issue," said Peters, who will dress seven defensemen and play one as a forward if both McClement and Liles are unable to play.
Injured center Jordan Staal skated in McClement's place between Brad Malone and rookie Justin Shugg, though he is not ready to return from a broken fibula he sustained in the preseason.
"No chance whatsoever," Peters said. "You know what, we're hoping it might be an early Christmas gift. If not, hopefully early in the new year."
Hurricanes captain Eric Staal is looking forward to his younger brother's return. Carolina has scored one goal in each game during its losing streak.
"He's a big, strong man that plays tough minutes against good players and he's tough to play against," Eric Staal said. "So we definitely have missed him, but other guys filled different roles and do the best they can. It's been obviously a struggle of late to get points on the board. We've played some good hockey games, we just haven't been on the right side of the offense and getting enough to win. We've got to find a way in a great building tonight, and look forward to the challenge."
After winning the first two games of their five-game homestand, the Canadiens are not looking past the Hurricanes despite looming games against the Anaheim Ducks (Thursday) and Ottawa Senators (Saturday).
"This team (Carolina) has a lot to prove, and they know coming in here and getting a win in a tough building will maybe jump start their season," Pacioretty said. "It's important for us to come out from the first shift and match their intensity. If we don't do that, we're going to find ourselves in trouble."
Here are the projected lineups:
Nathan Gerbe - Eric Staal - Patrick Dwyer
Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Elias Lindholm
Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Justin Shugg
Zach Boychuk - Riley Nash - Chris Terry
Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk
Jay Harrison - John-Michael Liles
Ron Hainsey - Michal Jordan
Scratched: Tim Gleason, Brett Bellemore
Injured: Jordan Staal (leg), Alexander Semin (lower body), Andrej Nestrasil (upper body), Jiri Tlusty (upper body)
Max Pacioretty – Alex Galchenyuk – Brendan Gallagher
Sven Andrighetto – Tomas Plekanec – Jiri Sekac
Brandon Prust – David Desharnais – PA Parenteau
Michael Bournival – Manny Malhotra – Dale Weise
Andrei Markov – P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin - Sergei Gonchar
Nathan Beaulieu – Tom Gilbert
Scratched: Eric Tangradi
Injured: Mike Weaver (concussion), Lars Eller (upper body), Bryan Allen (illness)
Status report: Shugg will make his NHL debut after being recalled from Charlotte of the American Hockey League on Monday. He had nine goals and 11 points in 17 games with the Checkers. … Allen has been sidelined the past four games. He was paired with Weaver at Montreal's morning skate at the team's suburban practice facility. Tangradi was recalled from Hamilton of the AHL on Monday.
Who's hot: Faulk has two goals in his past three games. … With two goals and an assist, Andrighetto has points in each of his first three NHL games since he was called up from Hamilton on Dec. 5. Plekanec has a goal and three assists during a four-game point streak. Subban has a goal and three assists in his past two games.