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Canadiens-Hurricanes Preview

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The Carolina Hurricanes aren't playing like a team that is five months removed from winning the Stanley Cup.

Carolina looks to avoid its fourth loss in five games Thursday when it hosts the Montreal Canadiens and red-hot goaltender Cristobal Huet.

The Hurricanes fell to 6-4-1 at home with a 4-1 defeat to Ottawa on Tuesday. Carolina finished with the Eastern Conference's best home record last season, going 31-8-2 before posting a 10-4 mark in the playoffs at the RBC Center.

"We had an identity last year that nobody was going to beat us at home, but last year is last year, and we have to put that aside," right wing Justin Williams said. "We have to realize that we have to make it hard for other teams to come into our building and take two points."

The Hurricanes have scored a combined three goals in their last three losses.

"We put a few lousy ones together as of late," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "What we need to get out of right now is the rut. We're in a lull right now. We need to snap out of it."

The Hurricanes (13-10-3) will be trying to do so against Huet, who is 6-0-0 with a 1.39 goals-against average while appearing in seven of Montreal's eight games since Nov. 13. Huet has allowed more than two goals once in that stretch, and never more than three.

Huet registered his second shutout of the season by making 36 saves before stopping two of the three shootout attempts he faced in the Canadiens' 1-0 win over Florida on Tuesday.

"You don't think about the shutout because it's so tight," Huet said. "You think about the win."

Montreal (14-6-3) avoided losing back-to-back games for the first time this season with Tuesday's victory, and has won four of five overall.

Huet earned his first win in four games against Carolina by stopping 31 shots in a 4-0 victory at the RBC Center on Nov. 2. He has a 1.57 GAA in earning a win and a tie in those four appearances.

Eric Staal had four goals and four assists against Montreal as Carolina swept the four-game regular-season series in 2005-06. The 22-year-old center then had two goals and six assists as the Canadiens beat the Hurricanes in six games in the first round of the postseason.

Including playoffs, Montreal has won three of its last four visits to Raleigh after winning just twice in its previous 11 games there.

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