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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Thursday, December 23rd (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (19-13-2) at Carolina Hurricanes (15-13-4), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens' longest road trip of the season has not gotten off to the best of starts. The Habs will try to avoid a third straight loss to kick off the seven-game swing when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at RBC Center.

The Canadiens began their current trek with a 3-2 regulation loss to Colorado and were most recently dealt a 5-2 setback Tuesday night in Dallas. Montreal, which is 7-8-0 as the guest this year, has lost four of its last five games on the road and five of its last six contests overall.

Despite the recent swoon, the Habs, who have 40 points on the year, are still leading the Northeast Division by two points over Boston.

Former Montreal defenseman Stephane Robidas recorded three assists in the Stars' 5-2 victory over the Canadiens on Tuesday. Brian Gionta and Mathieu Darche scored for the Canadiens, while Carey Price stopped just 12-of-17 shots in defeat.

Price is expected to get the start again tonight and is 3-3-1 with a 2.49 GAA in seven career starts against Carolina.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, will try to bounce back tonight after having their longest winning streak of the season halted in their last trip to the ice. Carolina had won four straight before getting slammed 5-1 this past Monday in Tampa.

Martin St. Louis scored a goal and dished out two assists to lead the Lightning to the rout of their Southeast Division rivals. Sergei Samsonov scored the lone goal for the Hurricanes, while Justin Peters turned aside 29- of-34 shots.

"In some stretches of this game we played better than we did in games that we won," Carolina head coach Paul Maurice said. "That's just the beauty of hockey."

Peters was making his first start since Nov. 24 as he was forced to play in place of Cam Ward, who has been bothered by a skin infection. Ward is expected to be able to start tonight against the Habs, who he has compiled an 11-4-2 career record against. However, Ward and the Hurricanes did not fare well in the only other meeting with the Habs this year, dropping a 7-2 decision in Montreal on Nov. 13.

The Hurricanes have still taken five of eight overall in the series and three of the last four meetings in Raleigh.

Carolina is 7-5-1 as the host this year and is playing the first of two straight on home ice this evening. Next up for the 'Canes is Sunday's test against Washington.

12/23 10:50:17 ET

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