A lack of offense lately has prevented the Carolina Hurricanes from putting together any kind of a winning streak. Minimal production from top center Eric Staal is a big reason why.
Staal look to end a seven-game goal-scoring drought Tuesday night when the Hurricanes face the Montreal Canadiens for the second time this season.
Carolina (9-7-2) ranks in the bottom half of the league in goals per game with 2.67, and that number has shrunk to 1.83 over the last six contests. The Hurricanes are 2-4-0 during that span.
Staal, the team leader in 2007-08 with 38 goals, 44 assists and 82 points, is fourth this season with 10 points in 18 games. He has no goals and one assist in his last seven contests overall, and has managed only two points in eight home games.
A matchup with Montreal (10-4-2) could be just what Staal needs to get going. The Hurricanes are 8-2-2 in their last 12 meetings with the Canadiens, with Staal providing eight goals and eight assists in those games.
Carolina avoided a four-game losing streak Sunday, when Rod Brind'Amour scored in regulation and again in the shootout while Cam Ward stopped both attempts in the tiebreaker to secure a 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay.
"I hope this puts us in the right direction," Brind'Amour said. "Our game is not where you want it to be. But a win is a win and we'll take it any way we can get it"
Brind'Amour has been the team's most consistent offensive threat lately, tallying three goals and two assists during a five-game point streak. The Carolina captain has also been very productive against Montreal, collecting four goals and six assists in an eight-game point streak.
Montreal is also coming off a shootout victory, winning 3-2 at St. Louis on Sunday.
Alex Kovalev scored the lone goal in the tiebreaker and goaltender Carey Price was perfect on three attempts as the Canadiens avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season.
"I thought tonight was one of our best games," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. "We were able to battle back in the third and win it in a shootout, so we're really happy."
Like Carolina, Montreal has also seen its offense regress. The Canadiens are averaging 2.5 goals during a 2-3-1 stretch after posting 3.5 per game in a season-opening 8-1-1 run.
Although he came through in Sunday's shootout, Kovalev has gone six straight games without a goal while center Tomas Plekanec has one in that same span.
Plekanec, however, has seven goals and 13 points in 12 career games against Carolina.
After owning the league's best power play last season, the Canadiens haven't had nearly the same success in 2008-09. They rank near the bottom of the NHL in conversion rate (14.6), going 0-for-20 in the last four games.
Saku Koivu scored in a shootout and Price stopped all three attempts in Montreal's 3-2 victory over visiting Carolina on Oct. 28. The Hurricanes had won nine straight at the Bell Centre - including three playoff victories in 2006 - since the lockout canceled the 2004-05 season.