Hurricanes-Canadiens Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 15, 2011
The Montreal Canadiens couldn't hang on to a two-goal lead in their last game. The Carolina Hurricanes came up short after being down by three. Both clubs are looking for a full 60-minute effort. Montreal goes for its third consecutive home win in this matchup Wednesday night while the Hurricanes try to end a five-game road losing streak. Leading by two after former Hurricane Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty each notched second-period goals, the Canadiens (7-7-3) were denied a third straight victory Monday, losing 3-2 in a shootout to Buffalo. While the club's top line of Pacioretty, Cole and David Desharnais has produced four goals and five assists in the last three games, Montreal's defense is a work in progress. A number of young blueliners, including P.K. Subban, Yannick Weber, Raphael Diaz and Alexei Emelin, have had to step in with veterans Andrei Markov (knee) and Chris Campoli (leg) out. To make matters worse, Jaroslav Spacek left the loss to the Sabres with an upper-body injury and may be out Wednesday. Hal Gill, however, could return after missing Monday's contest due to illness. "... They put some pressure on and we made some mistakes but there's a lot of youth on the back end and they took advantage of it," coach Jacques Martin told the Canadiens' official website. "When you look at both goals, they were mistakes that we made. The plan isn't to sit back at all - I think the best defense is offense." Improved work on the power play could help, as the Canadiens are 2 for 20 in those situations this month. Montreal, though, was 8 for 15 on the power play while winning three of four against Carolina in 2010-11. Cam Ward was in net for the Hurricanes in all of those matchups, but there's a chance he won't be Wednesday after getting pulled in the second period of Monday's 5-3 loss to Philadelphia. He has allowed three goals or more in six consecutive starts. Backup Brian Boucher turned aside 10 of 11 shots, but the Hurricanes couldn't get any closer than 4-3 after falling behind 4-1. "I think after the (goaltending) change, we snapped out of it and started being more aggressive and playing with more urgency," Boucher told the Hurricanes' official website following the team's ninth loss in 12 games. "It was just a reminder that that's the way we have to play." While coach Paul Maurice feels the opening 20 minutes have been the club's downfall this season - though the Hurricanes (6-9-3) have an 18-14 scoring edge in that period - Carolina's road struggles are a major reason it's tied with Winnipeg at the bottom of the Southeast Division. The Hurricanes have been outscored 21-9 during their road losing streak. Carolina is improving on the offensive end, however, netting eight goals in its last two games overall after finding the back of the net six times while losing its previous four. Center Eric Staal has started to break out of his slump with a goal and two assists in the Hurricanes' last two games. Carolina's captain has seven goals and eight assists in his last eight games versus Montreal. Staal and leading scorer Jeff Skinner (18 points) led the club with four points against the Canadiens last season. Montreal center Tomas Plekanec tallied two goals and seven assists in those games. Carolina went 11-0-2 in its first 13 post-lockout games in Montreal - including three wins in the 2006 playoffs - before losing both visits last season.
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