Montreal (41-29-7) at Carolina (36-30-10)

By BRETT HUSTON, STATS Senior Writer Wednesday, Mar 30, 2011 Puck Drop: 7:00 pm EDT Wed Mar 30, 2011

With its playoff hopes starting to look bleak, everything went Carolina’s way Tuesday night.

Nothing’s gone right for the Hurricanes against their next opponent.

Carolina hopes to build off a critical win and perhaps pull closer to the Eastern Conference’s No. 8 seed Wednesday night at the RBC Center, but it’ll have to first find a way to solve a Montreal Canadiens team looking to complete a four-game season sweep.

The Hurricanes (36-30-10) won three of four heading into Tuesday’s game in Washington, but that stretch didn’t help them make up any ground in the East. Eighth-place Buffalo entered the night with nine points in its last five games to take a five-point lead for the conference’s final playoff berth.

While the Sabres lost 4-3 at Toronto, Carolina picked up two key points in the nation’s capital. Jeff Skinner’s(notes) third-period goal evened the score at 2, then he and Tuomo Ruutu(notes) scored in a shootout to lift the Hurricanes to a crucial 3-2 victory.

“We got a little help, now we go back at it,” coach Paul Maurice said. “We go home with some emotion and some excitement now, and feeling good about being right back in it.”

As ninth-place Carolina gets a visit from current No. 6 seed Montreal (41-29-7), Buffalo will host the seventh-place New York Rangers.

Facing the Canadiens hasn’t worked out well for the Hurricanes. Montreal has outscored Carolina 14-7 in winning all three games, with six of those tallies coming in 12 power-play chances.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are 1 for 13 with the man advantage.

The Canadiens suffered through their own serious power outage over the past week, getting shut out in three consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 23-29, 1949.

They got all the offense they’d need within a few seconds Wednesday against Atlanta. Roman Hamrlik(notes) broke a 199-minute, 1-second drought with a goal 12:56 into the first period, and Mathieu Darche(notes) scored 11 seconds later to help lift Montreal to a 3-1 victory.

“Obviously it’s a big monkey off everybody’s back when we popped that first one,” said Carey Price(notes), who made 27 saves.

Price lost what would have been his ninth shutout on a controversial goal midway through the third period, though he still tied Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff(notes) for the NHL lead with his 21st home win.

Price has been much easier to score on away from the Bell Centre. He’s 4-3-1 with a 1.64 goals-against average at home since Feb. 9, but 5-6-0 with a 3.29 GAA in that same stretch on the road.

Price is 4-2-1 with a 2.09 GAA in seven starts against the Hurricanes over the past three seasons, though. With a regulation win Wednesday, Montreal would be nine points ahead of Carolina, virtually ensuring a playoff spot.

“The two points are all that really matters at this point,” Price told the NHL’s official website. “When you have teams creeping up behind you, just putting two points on the board is the biggest thing.”

Carolina captain Eric Staal(notes) has seven goals and seven assists in his last seven games against Montreal. He missed last month’s 4-3 loss with an upper-body injury, the only game he’s missed this season.

Related Articles

Team Stat Leaders



Wednesday, Mar 30