**SIZZLING 11-2 Last 4 Days** >> Rogers' ICE BREAKER (Won via SHUTOUT yday!)
Montreal vs. Carolina,
02/01/2018 19:00 EDT,
Score: 0 - 2
Money Line: -145 Carolina
The set-up: It's been a rough season for the 20-24-6 Montreal Canadiens. Montreal won the Atlantic division last year with 103 points but with only 46 points so far this season, Montreal finds itself well behind in the wild card standings with five teams ahead of them as the group chases the two current wild card entries, Columbus and Philadelphia. Montreal visits the 23-19-8 Carolina Hurricanes tonight, having lost at home to the Hurricanes 6-5 in the team's final game before the All-Star break. Montreal returned to the ice with 3-1 loss at St. Louis on Tuesday, while the Hurricanes look for their third consecutive victory in the second contest of an eight-game homestand (Carolina beat Ottawa 2-1 on Tuesday).
Montreal: This contest is the second road game among a stretch of seven road games in a 10-game span for Montreal. Making matters worse, the Canadiens might be out of the road routine having played only three times away from home in January, with a 1-2-0 record in those games. Goaltender Carey Price owns the highest goals-against average of his career (3.00) and, despite a solid 28-save performance at St. Louis, he fell to 4-11-0 with a 3.31 GAA in 15 road starts. The Canadiens aren't exactly feeling encouraged after they lost 3-1 on Tuesday night at St. Louis. "We didn't generate much offensively," Montreal head coach Claude Julien said. "It's the same old story. We have to find ways to get on the inside. ... It's important for us to find ways to score some goals. We need results." Captain Max Pacioretty added, "Even when we play pretty decent, it seems like it's just not enough," "We have to figure out how and why that's happening and find ways to win."
Carolina: The Panthers are stuck in the basement of the Metropolitan Division but sit just four points out of third place after opening the homestand with that win over Ottawa. "Everyone is aware of where we are in the standings and in the season," Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner said. "You have an opportunity at home to pick up some points. It's big at any point of the season, but obviously for us right now it's huge." Sebastian Aho missed four games after suffering a concussion and lower-body injury versus Calgary on Jan. 14, but he returned to the lineup with a flourish against Ottawa. Aho sparked the third-period comeback by netting the tying tally, his seventh goal in the past seven games and his team-high 17th. As noted, Carolina began an eight-game homestand with Tuesday night's 2-1 victory against the Ottawa Senators but that was the only victory for the Hurricanes in five January home games.
The pick: However, the Carolina Hurricanes are healthy and they're at home. Head coach Bill Peters said with games on back-to-back days (Thursday and Friday) he'll see what works best in terms of goaltending for the Montreal game. However, he said he liked Cam Ward's sharpness and communication level coming out of the All-Star break in Tuesday's victory. Ward is 19-12-4 with a 2.70 goals-against average versus Montreal and remember, Montreal's Price has an awful road record (see above) and as a team, Montreal is 8-14-1 on the road, allowing 3.39 GPG. Make Carolina an 8* play.