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'Canes and Canadiens look to rebound

by John Kreiser
HURRICANES (6-9-3) at CANADIENS (7-7-3)


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

Season Series: This is the first of four meetings this season. Montreal won three of four in 2010-11, including both games in Montreal.

Big Story: The Canadiens have gotten back to the break-even mark after a dreadful start, but the ‘Canes are still trying to figure things out – they’ve lost nine of their last 12. Carolina comes off a 5-3 home loss to Philadelphia on Monday in which is trailed all night, while the Canadiens had to settle for one point when a 2-0 lead in the third period turned into a 3-2 shootout loss to Buffalo.

Team Scope:

Carolina gave center Tim Brent a two-way contract last summer after the 27-year-old journeyman completed his first full NHL season with Toronto, scoring eight goals and 20 points in 79 games. He started the season centering the fourth line, but has recently been promoted to the third line with Patrick Dwyer and Alexei Ponikarovsky.

It’s taken a little while, but he’s feeling more comfortable with his new team, new home and new linemates.

"I'm starting to get in a little bit of a comfort zone now, but you never want to get too comfortable," he told Carolina's website. "There's always an adjustment period when you go to a new team."

Canadiens: It will be an interesting night for Montreal forward Eric Cole, who probably knows most of the guys in the white sweaters better than he does his current teammates. Cole, who spent all but 63 games of his first nine NHL seasons with Carolina, will be facing his old teammates for the first time since signing with Montreal last summer. as a free agent.

He told the team’s website he's looking forward to having some fun at the expense of his former teammates.

"Eric [Staal] is a very good friend of mine," he said. "Over the summer we were with Cam Ward at Andrew Ladd’s wedding, and I remember hearing Staal say to Ward, 'Whatever happens, we can’t let this guy score on us,' So tomorrow should be a really fun game."

Who's Hot: Carolina's Jeff Skinner, last season's Calder Trophy winner, has a goal and three assists in the Hurricanes' past two games and leads the team with 18 points in 18 games. … Montreal’s No. 1 line of Max Pacioretty, Cole and David Desharnais has four goals and five assists in the last three games.

Injury Report: Carolina defenseman Joni Pitkanen is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. …  Montreal forward Michael Cammalleri missed Monday’s game with a lower-body injury but practiced Tuesday. Defenseman Hal Gill didn’t play Monday due to the flu, and another defenseman, Jaroslav Spacek, left the game with an undisclosed injury. The Habs’ top defensemen, Andrei Markov, returned to the ice this week as he works to return from knee surgery nearly a year ago.

Stat Pack: Before losing both of last season’s visits to the Bell Centre, Carolina had gotten points in 11 consecutive games in Montreal (8-0-3). … Carolina goaltender Cam Ward has been struggling; he has surrendered at least three goals in six consecutive starts and was pulled in the loss to the Flyers. … The Canadiens are just 2-for-20 on the power play this month.

Puck Drop: Given Ward's struggles, don’t be surprised if Carolina coach Paul Maurice goes with Brian Boucher in goal. He seemed to give the ‘Canes a lift on Monday after replacing Ward with Carolina trailing 4-1; they got within 4-3 before the Flyers scored a late goal.

"I think after the change, we snapped out of it and started being more aggressive and playing with more urgency," Boucher told the team’s website. "It was just a reminder that that's the way we have to play."

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