Canadiens-Hurricanes Preview


The Montreal Canadiens are hoping to develop some consistency.

A meeting with the sliding Carolina Hurricanes may be just what they need.

The Canadiens attempt to rebound from a disappointing performance and conclude 2013 on a positive note Tuesday night by sending the Hurricanes to their longest losing streak of the season.

Montreal (23-14-3) is averaging 1.6 goals while losing five of nine after scoring 3.3 per game during a 9-0-1 stretch.

After back-to-back wins at Nashville and Tampa Bay, the Canadiens surrendered three unanswered goals Sunday in a 4-1 loss at Florida, the fourth stop on a six-game trip.

"We're all battling. We all want to win," left wing Max Pacioretty told the team's official website. "We all want to play the right way. It's just frustrating that we're not really finding it."

Montreal was held without a power-play goal for the fourth straight game and is 3 for 34 with the man advantage over the past 12.

"Especially on these road trips, you want to salvage as many points as you can," defenseman P.K. Subban said. "For us, it's just a matter of playing the game we know we need to play in order to win and to be successful. When we do those things, we're successful more often than not.

"We have to continue to bring that work ethic and continue to put pucks deep and be a tough team to play against. We've got to bring that."

That's certainly been the case against the Hurricanes (14-16-9). Montreal has outscored them 11-3 while winning three straight meetings, including a 4-1 victory in the most recent matchup April 1.

Pacioretty scored twice in that game, giving him three goals and one assist in the past three. He's surely looking for another big effort against Carolina after being kept off the score sheet for two straight games, while posting a season-worst minus-3 rating Sunday.

Carey Price figures to be back in net Tuesday after Peter Budaj made 21 saves against the Panthers. Price has won four of five starts overall and is 4-1-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and one shutout in his last five against Carolina.

The Hurricanes have dropped eight of nine (1-4-4), including a season high-tying five in a row. They haven't endured a longer slide since losing seven straight April 1-11, a stretch that started in Montreal.

Carolina's struggles continued with Sunday's 5-2 defeat at Toronto despite a 43-27 shot advantage.

"We had enough chances to win a hockey game," coach Kirk Muller said. "The chances were there. They scored and we didn't."

Nathan Gerbe, who had a goal Sunday, has been a rare bright spot recently. The left wing has three goals and three assists over the past six games, including four points in the last three.

Gerbe, though, has had little success against the Canadiens, totaling four points in 14 meetings while failing to score a goal in eight straight.

Jeff Skinner, the Hurricanes' leader with 14 goals, hasn't scored in six matchups.

Carolina needs better play from top goaltender Cam Ward, who is 1-4-1 with a 3.85 GAA in his last six starts. Backup Justin Peters has been much sharper lately, going 1-2-3 with a 2.45 GAA in his past six.