HabsWorld.net -- 

Preview: Montreal at Carolina – December 23, 2010Montreal Canadiens (19-13-2) at Carolina Hurricanes (15-13-4) – December 23rd, 2010

The Montreal Canadiens play their last game before the Christmas break tonight when they face the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center. The Habs have lost two in a row and have lost 5 of their last 6. Carolina, meanwhile, is coming off a 5-1 loss to the Lightning this past Monday. The Hurricanes are 4-1-1 in their last six games.

Cam Ward (14-9-3) will be between the pipes tonight after he was pulled from the lineup Monday for a minor infection on his forehead that limited his vision, among other symptoms. Carey Price (18-11-2) will most likely be back in net for the Habs. Price will be looking to snap his streak of bad luck (what with the deflections and 4-and-5-GA games) and return to his early-season success.

The Canadiens are clinging to first place in the Northeast Division with 40 points, with Boston is right behind them at 38 points. The Habs have fallen to 14th place in the league standings, but are just three points out of 6th place. They will play another four games on this road trip and should be desperately seeking to at least pull out a few points on this swing.

In the special teams matchup, Carolina is one of the league’s worst penalty killing teams at 78.3% and has allowed six goals in 22 chances over the last five games. Montreal remains one of the top PK teams at 87.2%, good for second in the league behind Pittsburgh. As for the power-play units, Montreal is at 18.4% while Carolina is at 16.3%. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything for tonight, as the Habs have had little success on the PP in recent games.

Tomas Plekanec (10-18-28), Michael Cammalleri (12-13-25) and Brian Gionta (12-9-21) lead the Habs in scoring. For Carolina, Eric Staal (16-17-33), Jeff Skinner (8-16-24) and Jussi Jokinen (5-18-23) are the top three point-getters, however, it’s worthy to note that all three are in the minus category while the three Habs previously mentioned are +5, +5, and +3 respectively.

Jiri Tlusty is out for Carolina with an upper body injury.

Game time is 7:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on TSN and RDS.