While the Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens finished at the bottom of their respective divisions last season, both find themselves in first with the midway point approaching.
The Southeast-leading Hurricanes look to win five straight for the first time in three years Thursday night as they host the Canadiens, who try to bounce back from their first regulation loss in almost a month.
Though Carolina (13-8-1) suffered a big blow when Cam Ward sprained his MCL during Sunday's 3-2 win at Florida, Justin Peters - in his season debut - stepped up to make 37 saves in Tuesday's 4-3 victory over Buffalo. Peters, recalled from Charlotte a day earlier, could play a key role going forward as the backup to Dan Ellis with Ward expected to miss six to eight weeks.
"Every day in the NHL is awesome," said Peters, who was 22-12-1 with a 2.29 goals-against average and two shutouts in the AHL. "You watch Cam Ward play and he's so calm and cool back there, I just try and learn from guys like...