If the Carolina Hurricanes played in the Northeast Division, they might be a playoff club.
The Hurricanes look to continue their dominance of the division this evening as they host the Montreal Canadiens.
Carolina was last in action on Tuesday against Ottawa and picked up a 2-1 win over the Northeast Division's second-place club. The victory gave the Hurricanes' a 12-3-4 record versus the division this season, including an 8-0-2 mark in the last 10.
Just one of those wins have come against the Canadiens, who took their first two meetings with the 'Canes before Carolina came through with a 5-3 win at Montreal on Feb. 13. The Hurricanes have points in 11 of their last 16 versus the Habs (8-5-3) and nine of the last 15 meetings have been decided by one goal.
Cam Ward came within 13 seconds of logging his sixth shutout of the season on Tuesday versus the Senators, but instead settled for a 38-save win. His effort helped Carolina improve to 6-3-1 over its past nine games.
"I felt like I was seeing the puck really well, I felt comfortable in there," Ward said. "For the most part I was really happy with the way I controlled my rebounds and guys were there for me most of the night."
Brandon Sutter and Tuomo Ruutu scored for the Hurricanes, who had dropped four of their previous five coming in. Jussi Jokinen logged an assist on Ruutu's goal to give him five points in his last five games.
Carolina will end its season on Saturday with a road matchup against the Florida Panthers.
Montreal's last loss to Carolina ended a four-game winning streak and the club has won consecutive games just once since, doing so on Feb. 8-10. The Canadiens will look to do so again tonight after snapping a four-game slide with last night's 5-2 in over the Lightning.
Max Pacioretty and former 'Cane Erik Cole both scored two goals, while Alexei Emelin added a goal and Pacioretty also posted an assist to give him a club- leading point total of 63. He is also second on the club with 32 goals, trailing Cole's 34.
"It was fun to get a couple of goals here," said Pacioretty, who hadn't scored in his previous 11 games. "Goal-scoring is a big part in your mind and when you're not scoring, it tends to block things up in there. But once you get the first one, it all comes back. We want to leave a good impression here at the end of the season."
Peter Budaj had to make only 14 saves to earn the win on the same day it was announced that starter Carey Price will miss the rest of the season due to a concussion. Montreal's starting goaltender had been suffering from headaches since his last start on March 30.
Montreal, set to miss the postseason for the first time since 2007, will wrap its season at home on Saturday versus Toronto.