Posted March 06, 2013 on
AP on Fox
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 him watching them on TV. His demeanor back there really feeds a lot to the bench."
Alexander Semin had a goal and two assists Tuesday while captain Eric Staal had a season-high three assists for the Hurricanes, who haven't won five in a row since a seven-game run Feb. 5-March 4, 2010. Staal leads the team with 28 points, nine of which have come during the current four-game win streak.
Carolina is 13-3-1 when Staal records at least one point compared to 0-5-0 when he doesn't. He has eight goals and eight assists in 10 home games.
"Eric's made a huge commitment to playing the game the right way without the puck," coach Kirk Muller told the team's official website. "I think he has a lot of pride in that. He's gone from a bit of an offensive guy to a two-way centerman. It's been a big part of our group having success."
Staal, though, is pointless in four of his last five matchups with Montreal (14-5-4), including a 3-0 road loss Feb. 18 as the Hurricanes had a season-low 19 shots.
The Eastern Conference-leading Canadiens had strung together an 8-0-3 run before a 6-3 road loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday. Michael Ryder tallied a career high-tying three assists for the second time in five games, but Carey Price stopped just 18 of 23 shots.
"We can't win them all, and we just went 11 games without losing in regulation," coach Michel Therrien told the team's official website. "The guys played with intensity, they worked hard, the results just didn't work out for us."
It was the first regulation defeat since Feb. 9 and just the second on the road all season for the Canadiens, who led 1-0 after 20 minutes but allowed three goals in each of the last two periods.
"We tried to put the puck on the net as much as we could, but we didn't always get the bounces and that just happens sometimes," said Tomas Plekanec, who scored for a second straight game and has a team-high 10 goals. "It's never a good feeling when you lose a game, whether it's at the end of a streak or not. A loss is a loss."
Plekanec has 13 points in the last nine meetings with Carolina as the Canadiens have gone 6-2-1.
Price has seen his GAA rise to 2.35 after allowing 12 goals over two starts this month. Despite Tuesday's effort, Price is 5-1-1 with a 1.81 GAA over seven road contests.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RALEIGH, NC -- The second period of the Carolina Hurricanes' 4-2 home loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night may have been the team's best of the season.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to propel Carolina to a victory. But, it was evidence of this team's potential explosiveness, and if it can figure out a way to play with more consistency, the Hurricanes...
Take a look at the league leaders in even strength point production and you'll see a few familiar faces as Carolina's first line of Eric Staal, Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty are in the top-30 in even strength points per 60 minutes. Staal leads the pack with an insane 4.08 even strength points per 60 minutes, a rate that puts him higher than the likes of Sidney Crosby, Thomas...
Sometimes the most frustrating losses are the ones when the team plays a solid game but ends up with nothing to show for it because of a few bone-handed mistakes. This was the case for the Hurricanes in their 4-2 loss to the Canadiens tonight. They outshot Montreal 43-28 and played arguably their best 20 minutes of the season in the second period but ended up taking the loss due...
The Carolina Hurricanes came out with a dominating home 1st period. The Canes faded a bit especially in the 3rd, but at the end of the day they are just better than Buffalo right now and it shows in the early completion of a 3-game sweep for 2013. The win pushes the Canes winning streak to a solid 4 games. Winnipeg's loss pushes the Canes lead in the Southeast Division to...
The Montreal Canadiens lead the East Conference with 32 points. They have a 14-9 record with four regulation tie points. This is a big step forward from last year's team who finished in last place in the East Conference.
Montreal is not your typical last place team. They only allowed 14 more goals than they scored in the season. Most last place teams do worse than that...
Yesterday, I wrote about my concerns of the Hurricanes first line experiencing some regression because they are currently producing at a ridiculous rate that is boosted by a high on-ice shooting percentage. these three continued to laugh in the face of even strength shooting regression last night by producing three goals en route to a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabre. To make me look...
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Brandon Prust and Lars Eller each had a goal and two assists to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
Eller's goal at 6:09 of the third gave Montreal the lead for good and P.K. Subban added a power-play goal at 7:56 to make it 4-2.
The Canadiens, playing their third game of a five-game road trip, were outshot...
For a goalie of Cam Ward's stature, there have been some uncomfortable moments this season.
Mostly, they have come in terms of Ward's having to fight for his starts something the 29-year-old has not had to do since his rookie season of 2005-06, when he ultimately led the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in the process...
Carey Price has been through enough in his NHL career to work his way out of a slump. I don't know if two bad games in a row legitimately constitutes as a slump, but in Montreal that's enough to get a goaltender crucified, especially one that's considered elite.
So, if you're already growing weary of the "sky is falling" type of talk around Montreal...
While the Carolina Hurricanes have climbed to the top of the Southeast Division, staying there could prove difficult with their starting goalie sidelined.
The Hurricanes try to overcome Cam Ward's absence as they go for a season-best fourth consecutive win and three-game season sweep of the visiting Buffalo Sabres, who are hoping to have Thomas Vanek available Tuesday night...