It's been so long since Montreal won consecutive games that Carey Price had a hand in it. While there's no news on when the reigning MVP might return, the Canadiens are at least in a position to remedy the first problem.
The opportunity comes Sunday against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, who are one of the teams that's blown by the once-promising Canadiens in the Eastern Conference.
Montreal (25-24-4) is a league-worst 7-20-2 since a four-game win streak Nov. 20-27 - Price's last appearance was Nov. 25 - and every other team has at least 11 wins during that slide. The Canadiens have allowed 3.10 goals per game in that time, though a 5-1 home win over Edmonton on Saturday ended a four-game skid on which they gave up 18.
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Queue Ben Scrivens, one of Price's replacements, for maybe the understatement of the year after beating his former team:
"We're kind of in a bit of a struggle right now, so hopefully that's a good game for us that we can build off of," the December acquisition told the team's official website after his first win in five games this season. "That's all that really matters to me."
Tomas Plekanec had a goal and three assists after recording an assist in his previous seven games, while P.K. Subban and Brendan Gallagher added a goal and an assist each. Subban, the team's points leader, has two goals and six assists on a five-game point streak, but he's been held from the score sheet in his last six against Carolina.
Gallagher's tally came with the man advantage, marking the team's fifth straight game with a power-play goal after going 6 for 71 in its previous 22.
"No complaints this time," Plekanec said. "We played with confidence. We moved the puck really well and scored some goals. Hopefully this is the start of the solid winning streak that we need and that we keep it going."
Montreal could still use a spark from Max Pacioretty, who's been limited to an assist with a minus-10 rating over the past seven games but has seven goals and five assists in his last eight versus the Hurricanes.
Part of the extended struggle was a 3-2 loss in Carolina on Dec. 5 which ended the Canadiens' five-game winning streak in the series, though they've still got a five-game run going at home against the Hurricanes.
Carolina (24-21-8) is 8-3-1 since going winless in the first three games of 2016. The Hurricanes have scored 2.92 goals per game in that span, which was padded in Friday's 5-3 win at Winnipeg.
They got four first-period goals and have 10 over a 3-1-0 span, but coach Bill Peters wasn't entirely pleased after the Jets scored the next three.
"We got off to a good start, so there are some positives, but lots and lots of things to work on," Peters told the team's official website. "We're not quite where we were when we entered the All-Star break. We've got to get our team game back.
"I thought we did some good things structurally early, but then we got away from it and allowed them to build some momentum and get back in the game."
Andrej Nestrasil scored twice and Jordan Staal had a goal and two assists to help Cam Ward ease back into things after missing six games with a concussion. Ward made 33 saves and has a 1.89 goals-against average and .928 save percentage over a 6-3-2 span, though he's posted 3.95 and .873 marks on a 1-5-0 stretch in Montreal.
Mike Condon, who has dropped his last three starts with 3.38 GAA and .889 save percentage, figures to complete the back-to-back set for the Canadiens.