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Canadiens going for season sweep of Hurricanes

by Arpon Basu

HURRICANES (16-15-2) at CANADIENS (22-7-5)


Last 10: Carolina 3-6-1; Montreal 7-2-1

Season series: This is the last of three meetings and the Canadiens will be seeking a season sweep of the Hurricanes, having won the first two encounters by a combined 7-2 score.

Big story: While the Canadiens are focused on holding off the Boston Bruins atop the Northeast Division standings, the Hurricanes are fighting for their playoff lives. A win against the Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg Jets was a step in the right direction Saturday, but a win in this game would represent a giant leap.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: Carolina hopes to build off that 3-1 win against the Jets in Winnipeg on Saturday, a win that snapped a seven-game losing streak, with six of those losses coming in regulation.

The loss of goaltender Cam Ward to injury is really starting to be felt quite severely, to the point coach Kirk Muller publicly blamed goaltender Justin Peters for a 6-3 loss in Toronto on Thursday when he said, “The bottom line is this: we didn't get the saves. We didn't get the saves at the right time and it cost us.”

Peters could not have responded much better Saturday in Winnipeg, making 34 saves in the win, but that game snapped a string of five straight where the Hurricanes allowed at least four goals.

Canadiens: The Canadiens can do little wrong right now as they seek to complete a season sweep of a team for the second time in as many games after turning the trick against the New York Rangers with a 3-0 win at home Saturday.

That game allowed Montreal to complete the month of March with a 9-3-2 record, scoring at least three goals in all but four of those games. The Canadiens’ offensive production remains the biggest surprise on perhaps the League’s most surprising team considering Montreal’s leading scorer, Michael Ryder, sits outside the NHL’s top-35 in scoring.

However, the production has come from a defensive crops that leads the NHL in scoring, and P.K. Subban has taken his offensive game to another level with 27 points in 28 games.

Who's hot: For the Hurricanes, Alexander Semin had a goal and an assist in each of the first two games of this three-game road trip, while Eric Staal had two goals and an assist in those two games. After being shut out in his first two games back from a long-term injury absence, Tuomo Ruutu has three assists in his past two games. … For the Canadiens, the aforementioned Subban has a goal and four assists in his past two games, Ryder has five goals in his past five games and rookie Brendan Gallagher has scored in each of his last two.

Injury report: The Hurricanes are without goaltenders Cam Ward (knee) and Dan Ellis (lower body) and defensemen Justin Faulk (knee) and Bobby Sanguinetti (upper body). … The Canadiens are missing defenseman Raphael Diaz (concussion), left wing Rene Bourque (concussion) and center Ryan White (lower body).

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