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Hurricanes eye move up the standings vs. Habs

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Carolina Hurricanes try to pick up two big points in their quest for a playoff spot on Saturday night as they host the Montreal Canadiens on the league's last day of action before the Olympic break.

The Hurricanes sit fifth overall in the Metropolitan Division, three points behind the third-place Philadelphia Flyers for the final automatic postseason berth in the division. Carolina is also three points behind Detroit for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Hurricanes close out a four-game homestand tonight having won two of three on the residency. That includes a 5-1 victory over the Florida Panthers last night.

Anton Khudobin made 34 saves and five different Carolina skaters scored a goal as the club won for the sixth time in its last eight games.

Andrej Sekera, Jiri Tlusty, Riley Nash, Alexander Semin and Brett Bellemore all scored. Nash has a goal in two straight games with four in his last 10, while Semin has tallied eight goals over his past 10 contests.

"To be successful in the NHL you have to have all four lines going," said Nash. "If you look at the past winners they all had depth and they all got scoring from everyone and I think we've been getting good stuff from a lot of guys lately."

Carolina did lose defenseman John-Michael Liles in the third period with a lower-body injury and his status for this game is unknown.

Montreal is sitting in a tie for third place in the Atlantic Division with Toronto and just one point behind Tampa Bay for second place. All three clubs are in action on Saturday.

The Canadiens are 4-1-1 over their last six games and picked up a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday in an odd night for forward Max Pacioretty.

Pacioretty posted his second hat trick of the season, but also failed to convert on two penalty shots in the second period. He was awarded both chances in a two-minute span, but failed to get a shot off either time on Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo.

"(Luongo) is a big goalie and a good goalie. I thought the move on the second shot really didn't help me out," Pacioretty said. "Other than that, I had some bounces and I owe my production to my teammates."

The forward did up his season goal total to 26, while Ryan White added his first goal of the season. Tomas Plekanec notched a goal and Carey Price came up with 42 saves.

Montreal picked up a second win in a row and will try to post its longest winning streak since a five-game run from Nov. 30-Dec. 7.

The Habs and 'Canes have split two meetings this season, with each team winning on home ice. Carolina recorded a 5-4 overtime win on Dec. 31, while Montreal got a 36-save shutout and goal from Pacioretty in a 3-0 triumph on Jan. 28.

The Canadiens have won four of five and nine of the last 13 meetings overall.

02/08 10:46:59 ET