Canadiens-Hurricanes Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 05, 2012
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.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Nationals among multiple teams inquiring on Mark Melancon


McClain does not show up for Cowboys’ training camp

Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Redskins GM injures hand punching wall in frustration

Report: Aldon Smith checks into rehab

McCarthy discusses 'urgency’ to win another title with Rodgers

Report: Lions extend CB Darius Slay with $50 million deal

Storyline from 'Ballers' plays out in Cowboys preseason camp

Texas A&M creates a very sexist version of their fight song for women

Brown, Marshall are apparently serious about their car bet

Lacy, Starks could split carries to start season

Cyborg Santos post-surgery skull photos are eerie

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Hockey team unveils Clinton, Trump bobbleheads

Bennett compares chemistry with Pats QBs to his love life

Crowell still making amends for controversial Instagram post

Report: LeBron urged Justin Bieber not to perform at RNC

Luck refutes Matt Hasselbeck’s assertion he never showers

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker