Hurricanes shoot for two in a row against Habs
Tuesday, 11.17.2009 / 7:30 PM
HURRICANES (3-12-4) at CANADIENS (9-11-0)
Last 10: Carolina 1-7-2; Montreal 4-6-0
Season series: This is the first of four meetings. In 2008-09, Carolina won three of four in the series, led by Eric Staal (3-2-5) and Sergei Samsonov (2-3-5). Goalie Cam Ward posted three wins. Montreal was paced by Alexei Kovalev and Robert Lang, each with 2 goals and an assist.
Big story: Without their No. 1 center in Staal, the Hurricanes are 1-4-1. Without their starting goalie in Ward, they are 1-1-1. In their last 15 games, the Hurricanes are 2-10-3 and have fallen to 30th in the League.
However, not since Tampa Bay on Oct. 10 has a team faced Carolina coming off a win, the task Montreal faces Tuesday night.
"Fourteen games without a win is a long time," said Carolina's Ray Whitney following Sunday's win. "Our character has been tested the last 14 games."
In this meeting, both struggling clubs will have a character test, and the Canadiens may find they have more to lose if they don't emerge victorious.
Hurricanes: Carolina is playing its first road game after a three-game homestand. It snapped a 14-game losing streak with a 5-4 shootout win against Minnesota on Sunday. The Hurricanes squandered leads of 3-0 and 4-1 before Jussi Jokinen scored the game-deciding shootout goal.
"Oh man, it has been such a long time, it's relief more than anything," said Ray Whitney, who recorded a goal and 2 assists. "You still scratch your head as to why we gave up a three-goal lead but in the end we'll take what we got."
It was Carolina's first win since defeating Florida 7-2 on Oct. 9.
"We're not throwing any back at this point," coach Paul Maurice said. "This is a huge win. What kind of conversation would we be having now after a 4-1 lead if we had lost that game. This was enormous for our players -- and staff. It's half a night's sleep anyway -- and then we'll be back at it."
Canadiens: Montreal is playing its first home game after a two-game road trip. The Canadiens have lost four of their last six games and were shut out in their last contest, 2-0, by Nashville last Saturday.
In the loss, goalie Carey Price tied a franchise record with 53 saves. Previously, Wayne Thomas stopped 53 shots in a 5-4 win at Pittsburgh on March 10, 1974. Price also tied Montreal records for most shots faced (24) and saves (23) in one period.
"They threw a lot of pucks at the net tonight," Price said. "Records aside, we were here to get two points, not a record."
"He performed well, there is no doubt," Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. "It's unfortunate that his teammates didn't take advantage of a performance like that."
Who's hot: For the Canadiens, Tomas Plekanec has 3 assists in his last two games, Mike Cammalleri has a goal and an assist in his last two games, and Marc-Andre Bergeron has a goal and 2 assists in his last two games. For the Hurricanes, Tuomo Ruutu has 3 goals and an assist in his last three games, Whitney has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last three games, and Tim Gleason has 2 goals in his last four games.
Injury report: For the Hurricanes, left wing Michael Ryan (upper-body) and Ward (leg) are on injured reserve, while Eric Staal (upper-body) is day-to-day. For the Canadiens, defensemen Andrei Markov (ankle), Hal Gill (lower-body) and Ryan O'Byrne (lower-body), and right wings Georges Laraque (upper-body) and Matt D'Agostini (concussion) are on injured reserve, and right wing Brian Gionta (lower-body) is day-to-day.
Stat pack: The Canadiens are one of only five teams without an overtime loss this season. Montreal has won four games in overtime and three times in a shootout. … The game on Nov. 11, the Hurricanes played a game without either Staal or Ward in the lineup since March 19, 2004, a span of 352 regular-season games.
Puck drop: Montreal is coming into this contest without much in the way of momentum. As the first team to face Carolina coming off a win in over a month, the Canadiens should not take this opponent lightly.
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