The Carolina Hurricanes will try to build off their first win in weeks when they visit the first-place Montreal Canadiens for Monday's clash at Bell Centre.
The Hurricanes had lost seven straight games (0-6-1) from March 14-28 before ending the season-worst slide with Saturday's 3-1 road victory over the rival Winnipeg Jets. It was Carolina's first win since March 12 in Washington and allowed the Hurricanes to move within four points of the Jets for first place in the Southeast Division.
Eric Staal and Alexander Semin each came up with a goal and an assist to help the Hurricanes end their losing streak Saturday in Winnipeg. Semin scored just 66 seconds into the game to stake Carolina to a 1-0 lead and the 'Canes would push the lead to 2-0 by the end of 20 minutes.
Jussi Jokinen, placed on waivers by Carolina earlier in the week, also had a goal in his return to the lineup, while Tuomo Ruutu contributed two assists before exiting with a lower-body injury in the first period. Ruutu and fellow forward Chad LaRose (illness) are questionable for Monday's game.
Justin Peters, making a third straight start in place of an injured Dan Ellis, turned away 34-of-35 shots to help Carolina pick up an important two points.
"We put 60 good minutes together tonight," said Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller. "We didn't get away from our game, our leaders kept leading and all the guys contributed. That's what I think was really rewarding for the guys tonight."
The Hurricanes had lost three straight on the road before Saturday's win. Carolina, which is 9-6-2 as the guest this season, will wrap a three-game road trip tonight before beginning a three-game homestand Tuesday against Washington. The Caps and Hurricanes are tied in the Southeast and conference standings with 34 points apiece.
Montreal enters Monday with a three-point lead over Boston for the top spot in the Northeast Division. The Canadiens have won their last two games, beating the Bruins in a wild 6-5 shootout win on Wednesday before handling the New York Rangers in a 3-0 decision on Saturday.
After posting the key road win in Boston, the Habs returned home to record the decisive win over the Rangers. Montreal recorded the only goal it would need to defeat New York just 47 seconds into the game, as Michael Ryder notched his 13th goal of the season.
Carey Price, meanwhile, stopped all 34 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season and 19th of his career.
"It was a team effort. They had a few scoring chances, but we played hard and blocked a lot of shots," Price said. "I thought we'd played very consistent hockey and that's the key to our success against them."
Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher also tallied for the Canadiens and PK Subban assisted on all three goals. Subban is leading Montreal this season with 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) and is third among all NHL defensemen in scoring.
Montreal ended a two-game slide at the Bell Centre on Saturday and is 10-4-3 on home ice this season.
The Habs are 2-0 against Carolina in 2013 and can complete a season-series sweep on Monday. The 'Canes have lost seven of 10 overall against Montreal and four of their last five at the Bell Centre.