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Surging Hurricanes host Canadiens

The Carolina Hurricanes try to extend their longest winning streak of the season and deal the Montreal Canadiens consecutive losses for the first time in a month as the two teams collide on Thursday night.

The Hurricanes have won four straight and five of their last six to open up a six-point lead for first place in the Southeast Division. They kicked off a three-game homestand with Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Alexander Semin had a goal and two assists and Justin Peters made 37 saves in his season debut and 23rd career start. Peters was recalled from the minors after Carolina announced that No. 1 netminder Cam Ward will miss the next 6- to-8 weeks due to a sprained MCL and was given that start because Dan Ellis was ill.

"He's a competitor," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said of Peters. "You take good and bad (because) you're learning all the time. He's been wanting to be here and he showed that he's prepared himself. He's matured and he was ready for a big game and had a really strong effort tonight."

As did Eric Staal, who logged three assists to surpass 600 career points. He has nine points over his last four games, while Jiri Tlusty has four goals and two assists over his past four games following a goal versus the Sabres. Jussi Jokinen finished with a goal and an assist.

Carolina takes aim at its longest winning streak since winning seven in a row from Feb. 5-March 4, 2010 against a Montreal club that had an 11-game point streak halted with Tuesday's 6-3 loss to the New York Islanders.

The Canadiens had gone 8-0-3 since getting shut out at home by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 9.

Montreal got power-play goals from P.K. Subban and Brian Gionta to even the game at three, but the Islanders netted the final three goals and ruin Gionta's milestone goal, which was the 20,000th for the Canadiens franchise in NHL play.

"It's always nice with the history of this organization to be a part of it," said Gionta, "but we're looking at today and it was a tough game for us. We battled back to get ourselves into it."

Michael Ryder registered three assists and Carey Price made just 18 saves on 23 shots faced in defeat. He has yielded 12 goals in his last two games after having given up just three in the previous three games.

The Canadiens will play the third of a five-game road trip and have won six of their past nine versus the Hurricanes. That includes a 3-0 win at Montreal on Feb. 18, which saw Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty score 18 seconds apart during a three-goal third period.

Canadiens backup netminder Peter Budaj made 19 saves in the shutout.