Posted April 05, 2012 on AP on Fox
The Montreal Canadiens still have a chance to avoid a dubious distinction the storied franchise has never suffered. Erik Cole may just help them avoid it. The former Carolina forward looks to stay hot as he and the Canadiens visit Raleigh for the Hurricanes' home finale Thursday night. Montreal (30-35-15) has not finished at the bottom of a conference since conferences were introduced in 1974. Its most recent last-place finish in anything bigger than a division came in 1939-40, when the club placed last in the seven-team NHL. With two games remaining, the Canadiens remain in the Eastern Conference cellar, but they're just two points behind the New York Islanders and three back of Toronto. They host the Maple Leafs in Saturday's season finale. The Habs have lost six straight on the road, but they snapped a four-game overall skid with Wednesday's 5-2 home victory over Tampa Bay, with Cole getting a pair of second-period goals. "It was a lot of fun," said linemate Max Pacioretty, who had two goals and an assist of his own. "It's important for us to show our fans that we're not that far from being a contending team." Cole has scored seven times in his last six games, giving him a career-high 34 goals in his first season with Montreal. He spent at least part of each of his previous nine NHL campaigns with Carolina. The Hurricanes (32-32-16) are trying to escape the Southeast Division basement. They trail the Lightning by just one point thanks to their 2-1 victory at Ottawa on Tuesday and the Canadiens' win the following night. Carolina hasn't finished last in the division since 2002-03. "It's important to finish the season strong even though we're out of the playoffs," Cam Ward said after making 38 saves against the Senators. "Guys are still out there sacrificing and sticking up for one another." Eric Staal needs one point in the final two games to reach 70 for the seventh straight season. The Carolina captain has elevated his game down the stretch, posting 32 points and a plus-9 in 28 games since the beginning of February following a difficult first half. Staal has 18 points in his last 11 games against Montreal, including two goals and an assist during a decisive third period in a 5-3 road win in the most recent meeting Feb. 13. Hurricanes winger Tuomo Ruutu suffered an injury early in that game, causing him to miss nearly a month. On Tuesday, he scored his first goal since returning, ending a 14-game drought. It's possible Canadiens defenseman Tomas Kaberle may play his first game in Raleigh since a brief, disastrous stint with the Hurricanes. Kaberle has been out with an upper-body injury since March 12, but has said he's trying to return before the end of the season. Carolina signed Kaberle to a three-year, $12.75 million contract last summer, but traded him to Montreal for Jaroslav Spacek on Dec. 9 after he posted a minus-12 in 29 games. At the time of the trade, Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford told reporters he "should have known better" with regard to signing Kaberle. The Canadiens fired their GM, Pierre Gauthier, last week.

Habs goalie assists on easiest goal ever

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Peter Budaj must have been in a giving mood Wednesday as he donated to Vinny Lecavalier’s goal scoring fund. Lecavalier misplayed a pass from a teammate along the right wing and the puck slid into the Canadiens’ zone. Budaj skated out to the left face-off circle to play it and play it he did. He served the puck up on a silver platter like a waitress...

Canadiens G Price to be examined by team doctor

With only three games left in the regular season, the Montreal Canadiens are playing it safe with All-Star goalie Carey Price. Price will be examined Wednesday by team physician Dr. David Mulder to determine whether his headaches are a sign of something more serious. He'll miss Montreal's game against Tampa Bay that night and is doubtful for a game at Carolina on Thursday...

Habs goalie Price out with concussion

Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price has a mild concussion and will miss the rest of the season. The team made the announcement Wednesday after the 24-year-old All-Star was examined by the club's doctor. Price has been suffering from headaches since teammate David Desharnais landed on him during a 2-on-1 drill in practice late last week. He played the following night in a...

Lightning falter late, lose to Canadiens

MONTREAL (AP) -- Canadiens linemates Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty both scored two goals, and Montreal snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Wednesday night. Lightning star Steven Stamkos didn't score, despite several good chances, and remained two goals short of 60. He will play in his hometown of Toronto on Thursday night and has two games...

Concussion sidelines Canadiens G Price for season

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price will miss the final few days of the season with a concussion. Price had been suffering headaches since he was landed upon by teammate David Desharnais during practice last week. He was, however, in uniform against the New York Rangers a day later. The 24-year-old Price is 26-28-11 with a .916 save percentage and 2.43 goals-against average...

Last-place Habs get win over Lightning

Canadiens linemates Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty both scored two goals, and Montreal snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Wednesday night. Lightning star Steven Stamkos didn't score, despite several good chances, and remained two goals short of 60. He'll play in his hometown of Toronto on Thursday night and has two games left to reach...

Habs news as the team twists in the wind

One issue today: the Carey Price injury. My question: why is there so much controversy about this? Just shut him down. Not worth the risk. If he has a concussion, give him an early summer. Throw Robert Mayer in there and see what we got and, hey, we probably get a better draft pick. Don’t mess with Price’s head - literally - sit him, let him rest, and get ready for next year...

Peter Budaj's goaltending blunder

[youtube]N0jyZsYU0_g[/youtube] The Montreal Canadiens will not be in the 2011-12 playoffs. Carey Price is out with a minor concussion. As if Montreal fans weren't depressed enough, backup goaltender Peter Budaj added insult to injury.  In just his 15th start of the season, Budaj committed a huge blunder, wandering well out of his crease to handle a puck coming into his zone...

Video- Perhaps The Bad Goal Of The Year

Peter Budaj with the perfect pass to Vinny Lecavalier.

Ward makes 38 saves as 'Canes top 'Sens

OTTAWA (AP) -- Brandon Sutter and Tuomo Ruutu scored and Cam Ward made 38 saves to lead the Carolina Hurricanes past the Ottawa Senators 2-1 Tuesday night. Jason Spezza scored with 13 seconds left in the third period to spoil Ward's shutout bid. The Hurricanes, long out of postseason contention, ensured the playoff-bound Senators can finish no higher than seventh in the Eastern...

Staal's shootout goal hands Hurricanes victory

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- One of the "Erics" from the Carolina Hurricanes' glory days seemed destined to make the biggest play Thursday night. Cam Ward was just glad it was the one who's still with the team. Eric Staal scored the only goal in the shootout to lead Carolina past the Montreal Canadiens, 2-1 in the Hurricanes' home finale. Chad LaRose scored on the...

Morning Skate: April 4

The Morning After:Yesterday’s results:Sabres 6, Leafs 5 (OT)Devils 3, Islanders 1Rangers 5, Flyers 3Penguins 5, Bruins 3Hurricanes 2, Senators 1Jets 5, Panthers 4 (OT)Predators 2, Wild 1 (SO)Sharks 5, Stars 2Canucks 5, Ducks 4 (OT)Coyotes 2, Blue Jackets 0RLD 3 stars of the night:1. Mike Smith (54 saves, shutout)2. Derek Roy (2 goals, overtime game winner)3. Cam Ward (38 saves...
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