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Habs go for series sweep of 'Canes

by Brian Compton
CANADIENS (41-29-7) at HURRICANES (36-30-10)

TV -- TSN (HD), RDS (HD), FS-CR (HD)

Last 10 -- Montreal 4-6-0; Carolina 5-4-1

Season series -- This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. Montreal is going for a season sweep, as the Canadiens have outscored the Hurricanes 14-7 in three victories.

Big story -- It's a showdown featuring a pair of teams coming off big victories on Tuesday night. While the Canadiens ended a scoring drought that lasted almost 200 minutes in a 3-1 win against the Atlanta Thrashers at the Bell Centre, the Hurricanes got a huge boost in their playoff hopes with 3-2 shootout victory at Washington. Combined with Buffalo's regulation loss at Toronto, the Hurricanes moved within three points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Team Scope:

Canadiens-- Roman Hamrlik helped avoid what would have been a dubious honor as he prevented the Habs from being shutout in a franchise record fourth straight game at 12:56 of the opening period of Tuesday's 3-1 win against Atlanta at the Bell Centre. Mathieu Darche scored 11 seconds later for No. 6 Montreal, which is two points ahead of the New York Rangers.

"I don't even know if I got it because there were so many guys in the front of the net," Hamrlik said after scoring his first team's first goal in 199:01, a span of 10 days. "The most important thing is we got two points. As a team we worked much better than we did the last game and that's huge, to get some confidence to go on the road."

Hurricanes -- Carolina enters Wednesday's action just three points out of a playoff spot, and they have Jeff Skinner to thank for it as the rookie forward scored a goal and converted his shootout attempt to lift the Hurricanes to a 3-2 win against the Capitals on Tuesday night at the Verizon Center.
Skinner's goal tied the game at 2 less than two minutes into the third period, when his shot knuckled past Washington goalie Semyon Varlamov.

"This Skinner kid's a pretty special shooter," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "So before I qualify that shot as not real strong -- he's put enough by goalies from strange angles, that now you just accept it and say maybe he saw it."

Who's hot -- Skinner now has goals in two of his last three games and continues to make a strong case to be a Calder Trophy finalist as the NHL's Rookie of the Year.

Injury report -- Montreal will be without Andrei Markov (knee), Josh Gorges (knee), Jaroslav Spacek (knee) and Max Pacioretty (concussion, cracked vertebra). … Carolina is boasting a healthy lineup as Joni Pitkanen returned from an illness on Tuesday night.

Stat pack -- The last time Montreal failed to score in four straight was back in February 1928. … Tuesday marked the third day in a row that the Hurricanes and Buffalo played on the same night. That will be the case for each team for a five-game stretch until they meet April 3 in Raleigh.

Puck drop -- "The two points are all that really matters at this point," Price said. "When you have teams creeping up behind you, just putting two points on the board is the biggest thing." -- Canadiens goalie Carey Price
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