Hurricanes-Canadiens Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 12, 2012

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 27: Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens can't stop a shot by Vincent Lecavalier #4 (not shown) of the Tampa Bay Lightning at 2:23 of the scenond period as Alex Tanguay #13 (L) and Steve Downie #9 (R) cruise in front at the St. Pete Times Forum on January 27, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. The Lightning defeated the Canadiens 3-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Montreal Canadiens seem to have turned a corner behind the tremendous goaltending of Carey Price. If his recent home efforts against the Carolina Hurricanes are any indication, Price could be in for another big night. The Canadiens look to extend their winning streak to a season-best five Monday night, when they'll also be seeking their sixth win in seven meetings with the visiting Hurricanes. Montreal (23-24-9), which sat at the bottom of the Eastern Conference as recently as Feb. 5, has since climbed back into the playoff picture thanks to four consecutive wins. While the offense has averaged 3.5 goals during the winning streak, it's been Price who's shined brightest. The three-time All-Star has surrendered a total of four goals while starting all four games of the winning streak, and posted his second shutout over that span with a 32-save display in Saturday's 5-0 victory at Toronto. "I'm just trying to keep it simple, more or less," Price told the Canadiens' official website. "The last few games I've just been trying to stay sound and not over complicate things. It's been a lot of fun. Winning is awesome; it's better than losing." Saturday's result pulled the 11th-place Canadiens within seven points of the Maple Leafs for the eighth and final playoff spot. "I think our attitude has a lot to do with it – everybody is a lot more positive," said Price. "I think we're a lot easier on each other and we're sticking up for each other. Gripping the sticks doesn't help and when you have supportive teammates it makes things easier." Max Pacioretty scored his fifth goal of the winning streak against the Leafs, but believes Montreal's play must improve further. "If we want to go further and if we want to make the playoffs we've got to play for 60 minutes," Pacioretty said. It's great to get the win but there's still some work to do." Montreal has to like its chances of extending its run if Price is in goal. He's 3-1-0 with a 1.48 goals-against average over his last four home meetings with the Hurricanes (20-25-11), turning away all 25 shots in a 4-0 win Nov. 16. Carolina enters this matchup last in the East but has played much better of late, recording points in 10 of its last 12 games. However, the Hurricanes have lost in overtime on each of the first two stops of their current three-game trip. "We're definitely on the right track," said captain Eric Staal, who notched a goal and an assist during Friday's 4-3 loss at Colorado. "We're in every game. We're playing hard. If we keep doing what we're doing, I think we'll get rewarded." Cam Ward made 29 saves against the Avalanche, but allowed more than three goals for the first time in 14 games. He's gone 7-3-4 with a 1.76 GAA over that stretch, but has compiled a 4.67 GAA while losing his last three starts in Montreal. Monday marks Jaroslav Spacek's first return to Montreal since the Canadiens traded him to Carolina for fellow defenseman Tomas Kaberle on Dec. 9. "It will be a little crazy," Spacek, who has one goal and four assists in 19 games for Carolina, told the Hurricanes' official website. Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller also makes a triumphant return to Montreal, where he was an assistant coach for five seasons and played for four. "It will be interesting. I just sold my house last week, so I can't even stay there," said Muller, who scored the Stanley Cup winning goal for the Canadiens in 1993.
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