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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Sunday, December 21st (All times eastern)

Carolina Hurricanes (15-13-5) at Montreal Canadiens (18-9-5), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A three-time 30-goal scorer, Montreal's Alex Kovalev is showing signs of breaking out of his scoring slump. Kovalev aims to light the lamp for a fourth straight game tonight, as the Canadiens host the Carolina Hurricanes at the Bell Centre.

Kovalev is coming off a 2007-08 season that saw him post 35 goals and 49 assists for 84 points. It was his best scoring campaign since notching 44 goals, 51 assists and 95 points in 2000-01 with Pittsburgh.

However, he has just eight goals and 18 assists in 32 games this year, but since going 19 games without a tally he has scored in three straight contests. That includes the overtime game-winner in last night's 4-3 win versus Buffalo.

Kovalev's wrister from in close with just 25 seconds left on the clock gave the Canadiens their second straight win on the heels of a three-game slide. It also came on Montreal's second man advantage of the overtime session and was just Kovalev's second power-play goal of the year. He had a career-high 17 last season.

Sergei Kostitsyn scored twice and Alex Tanguay tallied for Montreal, which closes out a three-game homestand tonight and is 11-4-3 as the host this year. Jaroslav Halak allowed three goals on 34 shots in the win and Andrei Markov had two assists.

Halak continues to play with Carey Price out with a left quadriceps/knee injury. Andrei Kostitsyn, meanwhile, missed last night's test due to a knee ailment and is day-to-day.

The Hurricanes began a four-game road trip on Saturday night and had a six- game point streak (3-0-3) halted with a 4-2 setback to the Boston Bruins.

Joni Pitkanen and Ray Whitney scored for Carolina, which had won two in a row. Rod Brind'Amour assisted on both goals for the Hurricanes to give him seven helpers over a six-game assist streak.

Cam Ward made 32 saves in defeat.

Carolina, eight points back of first-place Washington in the Southeast Division, is 6-5-4 on the road this year and has lost three straight and six of its last seven as the road team.

These two clubs will close out their four-game season series. Montreal took the first meeting at home, but has since lost two straight in Carolina. The Hurricanes have won seven of the last 10 in the series overall and six of its last seven at the Bell Centre, with the Habs' earlier win there snapping a six-game series home losing streak.

12/21 10:32:52 ET

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