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Price, Habs aim to rebound against Hurricanes

by Arpon Basu

CANADIENS (14-5-4) at HURRICANES (13-8-1)


Last 10: Montreal 6-1-3; Carolina 6-4-0

Season series: This is the second of three meetings. The Canadiens handed the Hurricanes their first shutout loss of the season, 3-0, at Bell Centre on Feb. 18. This is Montreal’s only visit to Raleigh this season.

Big story: The Hurricanes have ridden one of the NHL’s most potent offensive lines to a four-game win streak, and Carolina will need that line of Eric Staal, Alex Semin and Jiri Tlusty to continue producing with goaltender Cam Ward lost for 6-to-8 weeks with a sprained MCL.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: Goaltender Carey Price was a big part of Montreal’s rocket start to the season, but to say he has struggled of late would be polite. In his last two starts against the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders, both losses, Price allowed 12 goals on 59 shots, an unflattering save percentage of .797.

“[They] definitely weren’t the sharpest of starts,” Price told reporters in Carolina on Wednesday. “But At the same time we can’t dwell on it, we have to get re-focused.”

That’s what Price was doing on the ice Wednesday, putting in some extra work during an optional skate to try and work out some mechanical kinks that may have crept into his game, saying he needs to do a better job competing. However, his teammates will need to the same in front of him against a high-octane Hurricanes team, because the number of scoring chances allowed has climbed significantly of late for the Canadiens as well.

Hurricanes: The Hurricanes lead the Southeast Division and are playing some of the best hockey in the National Hockey League with a four-game winning streak, a run fueled by the aforementioned line of Eric Staal, Alex Semin and Jiri Tlusty. Over the course of their current win streak, the Hurricanes have scored 17 goals, and the astonishing thing about that impressive total is that all but one of those goals came at even strength.

However, the big line accounts for more than half of that total, with nine goals over the past four games between them. It’s also not a surprise the win streak coincides perfectly with the return to the lineup of defenseman Tim Gleason, but he and the rest of the Carolina defense will be counted on even further with either Dan Ellis or Justin Peters in goal.

Who's hot: For the Canadiens, Tomas Plekanec has scored in each of his last two games. Defenseman P.K. Subban is riding a four-game point streak, with two goals and three assists over that span. Brian Gionta has four goals in four games. … For the Hurricanes, the big line of Eric Staal, Tlusty and Semin has combined for nine goals and 15 assists in four games. Jussi Jokinen has three goals and two assists in three games.

Injury report: The Canadiens are missing defenseman Raphael Diaz and right wing Rene Bourque, both out with concussions, while center Petteri Nokelainen (lower body) still has not played this season. … The Hurricanes have center Tuomo Ruutu and Ward listed on injured reserve, while defenseman Joni Pitkanen has not played since suffering a lower-body injury against Florida last Saturday and Chad Larose suffered a concussion Sunday. Forward Tim Brent was activated from injured reserve at the same time as Gleason, but he also re-injured himself in his return on Feb. 28 and hasn’t played since.

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