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Hurricanes-Canadiens Preview @NHLdotcom
Hurricanes-Canadiens Preview

GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (36-11-4) at Montreal Canadiens (23-20-6).

TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Carolina Hurricanes, owners of an NHL-high 76 points, hope to have newly acquired Doug Weight on the ice when they visit the Montreal Canadiens.

Carolina acquired the veteran center from the St. Louis Blues on Monday in exchange for right wing Jesse Boulerice, center Mike Zigomanis and the rights to unsigned draft pick Magnus Kahnberg. The Hurricanes also received the rights to left wing Erkki Rajamaki, currently playing in the Finnish League.

The 35-year-old Weight led the Blues with 33 assists and 44 points, while ranking third with 50 penalty minutes in 47 games this season. He was named to the U.S. Olympic team that will be led by Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette next month in Turin.

"Doug is one of the premier forwards in the National Hockey League and will add a strong element to our top lines," Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford said in a statement. "His skill, leadership and experience will be a great benefit for our team."

The Hurricanes have won four straight and 13 of 14, and have a franchise-best 76 points through 51 games.

Carolina, which begins a four-game road trip with this contest, extended its franchise-record home winning streak to nine games with a 4-1 victory Saturday over the Atlanta Thrashers after retiring Ron Francis' No. 10.

"We wanted to give a special effort, we wanted to win this game for him," defenseman Bret Hedican said. "We talked about it, and came out playing the game we wanted to play."

Four players scored for Carolina, including defenseman Anton Babchuk, who tallied his first goal since being acquired Jan. 20 from the Chicago Blackhawks.

"It's not about goals, it's more important to win games," Babchuk said. "Everybody tries to help the team win, and my goal helped, so I'm just happy about that."

The Canadiens are looking for their season-high fourth straight win at the Bell Centre.

Montreal has lost 17 of its last 20 road games after beginning the season with six wins in its first seven contests away from home. The Canadiens, however, completed a 2-4 road trip with a 4-3 overtime win Saturday over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Montreal trailed 2-1 in the third period before Saku Koivu and Jan Bulis scored 35 seconds apart to give the Canadiens a 3-2 lead. Koivu's second goal of the game 64 seconds into overtime lifted the team to the win.

The Canadiens and Leafs are both in a tight race in the Eastern Conference standings with more than half the season gone.

"It was an important game and it could affect the outcome of the season," Montreal coach Bob Gainey said.

Koivu recorded his first multigoal game since Nov. 15 and Bulis finished the trip with five goals - four coming Wednesday in a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Canadiens have victories over division leaders in two of their last three home games, and are now facing a Carolina club they've beaten three straight times in Montreal.

Following this contest, Montreal visits Boston on Thursday before playing four of its last five games before the Olympic break at home.

STANDINGS: Hurricanes - 76 points, 1st place, Southeast Division. Canadiens - 52 points, 4th place (tied), 20 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - Eric Staal, 31 goals, 35 assists and 66 points; Mike Commodore, 86 PIM. Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 20 goals; Koivu, 24 assists and 38 points; Steve Begin, 93 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Hurricanes - Power play: 19.5 percent (67 for 343), 7th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.2 percent (229 for 282), 18th. Canadiens - Power play: 18.7 percent (53 for 283), 10th. Penalty killing: 80.7 percent (247 for 306), 21st.

GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Martin Gerber (25-8-2, 3 SO, 2.71 GAA); Cam Ward (11-3-2, 3.43). Canadiens - Jose Theodore (17-14-5, 3.36); Cristobal Huet (3-4-1, 2.88).

SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 23; Hurricanes, 7-3. At Raleigh, N.C., Staal and Justin Williams each had a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes. Tomas Plekanec scored twice for Montreal.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 13-7-3 on the road; Canadiens - 14-6-2 at home.

Associated Press
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