The Montreal Canadiens are no strangers to questionable victories.
In fact, they've made something of a habit of winning despite themselves over the last two years, and Friday night made for a dramatic addition to that track record.
On paper, the Kings absolutely smoked the Habs, putting 46 shots on Carey Price while giving up only 20 on Martin Jones. On the ice, the result was the satisfying opposite.
Sparked by an early Jiri Sekac tip, and capped by an outstanding skill play by the same player, the Habs put up a season high six goals, propelling them to a win created as much by goaltending as by offence. The process may be less than sound, but when the margin of victory is four goals, it's hard to argue with how it happened.
Getting back on track is a little easier when the last game's result was two points. Tonight, the Habs have a chance to do just that.
How to Watch
Start time: 7:30 PM ET
In Quebec and Atlantic Canada (French): RDS
In Quebec and Atlantic Canada (English): Sportsnet East
In North Carolina and South Carolina: FoxSports Carolinas
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|50.3||Fenwick % (Within 1)||51.7|
|1.15||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.69|
Know Your Enemy
The Carolina Hurricanes are a rebuilding team that has been, to put it mildly, unlucky.
22-year-old Justin Faulk is the team's #1 defenceman. 21-year-old Victor Rask is a top-9 centre. 20-year-old Elias Lindholm has been thrust into the role of top-six winger. All three players have played beyond their years, but without a few key contributors, the team hasn't been able to keep up.
New coach Bill Peters has been immediately confronted by injuries to two of his best forwards, Alexander Semin and Jordan Staal. Players like Rask and Lindholm, not to mention a slew of other unknowns, have played well, keeping the 'canes in the top ten in possession league-wide. Unfortunately, all of that sidelined shooting talent has left the Hurricanes less than dangerous.
When competitive, the Hurricanes were reliant on their torrid first line to drive offensive production. Minus his brother, and his top running mate, Captain Eric Staal has been relegated to playing with the likes of Zach Boychuk and Chris Terry.The result is the second-worst offensive output in the league, ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres at even strength.
The toothless offence, combined with some of the league's worst goaltending from Cam Ward (below-average) and Anton Khudobin (atrocious), has the Hurricanes at the bottom of the PDO table. Accordingly, they're also at bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Last Time Out
The Canadiens allowed the Hurricanes to open the scoring when these last two teams played. Marc Bergevin made sure that would never happen again, signing Drayson Bowman and assigning him to the Bulldogs..
Meanwhile, the Habs solved short-term problem as well, storming back for four goals to rout the Hurricanes.
That most recent Canadiens-Hurricanes contest was characterized a little like Friday night's game, in that the game came during a stretch in which the Habs were often heavily outplayed, and won anyway. Carey Price was lights out for that stretch, not unlike his superlative play when the Habs battled the Kings.
Montreal teams of the last few years have been in that situation quite often, and usually, their insurance policy is usually Price. Facing a team like the Hurricanes, it shouldn't be necessary to make a claim.