|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET20:00 BRT, October 3, 2019
PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina Attendance: 18,680
Hurricanes bid for strong start vs. Canadiens
Montreal Canadiens at Carolina Hurricanes
- The Hurricanes took two of three from the Canadiens last season and have won six of the last seven meetings. In its last 17 games with Montreal, Carolina has stopped 35 of 36 power-play opportunities. That 97.2 penalty kill percentage is the highest by a team over a 17-game stretch over a single opponent since the Bruins killed 97.7 percent of their penalties (43 of 44) against the Panthers from 2008-2012.
- The Canadiens last season had a league-low 31 power play goals and converted just 13.2 percent of their power-play chances, the franchise's worst mark in the last 50 seasons.
- Carolina is coming off a season in which it reached the Eastern Conference final, its deepest playoff run since an Eastern Conference Final defeat in 2008-09. The Hurricanes won 24 home games last season, their most since winning 26 in that 2008-09 season.
- Montreal amassed 96 points last season -- the most by a team that missed the playoffs -- and won 44 games after winning only 29 in 2017-18. That 15-win improvement was the biggest in the NHL last season and fifth largest in franchise history.
- Sebastian Aho led Carolina with a career-best 83 points last season and had a plus-25 rating. He and teammate Teuvo Teravainen (plus-30) joined Mike Rogers in the inaugural 1979-80 as the only forwards in franchise history with a rating of plus-25 or better.
- Max Domi led Montreal with 72 points last season, the most by a Canadien since Alex Kovalev had 84 in 2007-08. He had 61 even-strength points, the most by a Hab since 1992-93, when both Vincent Damphousse and Stephan Lebeau each had 61.
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The Carolina Hurricanes are looking to keep their momentum from the spring despite beginning a new season in the fall.
The Hurricanes' opponent for Thursday night's opener is the visiting Montreal Canadiens, who are in need of something on which to build.
Carolina made a surprising run to last spring's Eastern Conference finals in its first postseason appearance in 10 years.
"We took a big stride, but we didn't get to the finish line," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said.
While much of the core of the Carolina team remains in place, there will be introductions minus some notable players. Justin Williams, who was the captain last season, hasn't returned to the ice in what might become a retirement, and defenseman Justin Faulk was traded last week to the St. Louis Blues.
Still, the Hurricanes like the foundation that has been set. There's a solid group of defensemen along with 2018-19 scoring leader Sebastian Aho.
"Not as many new guys this year," defenseman Dougie Hamilton said. "(Last season) everything was new for a lot of guys."
Yet one of the new players this season is 6-foot-4 defenseman Joel Edmundson, who was acquired in the Faulk deal.
"We needed that kind of player," Brind'Amour said of Edmundson. "It's going to take him a little time to get adjusted. He's going to be a huge addition for us."
The Canadiens are beginning the season with a pair of 20-year-olds who made the roster. Forward Nick Suzuki, who scored the overtime winner in the preseason finale against Ottawa, and defenseman Cale Fleury will be with the team.
"I think he realizes that he has a long road ahead and it's not easy. He's a hard-working kid," said Max Domi, who will be Suzuki's linemate at the outset.
Coach Claude Julien is tasked with getting the Canadiens back on track. They've missed the postseason the past two years, though they increased their win total to 44 games last year compared to 29 in 2017-18.
"We're all looking forward to getting the season started," Montreal right winger Brendan Gallagher said. "Now they're for real. Now they count. When the puck drops in Carolina, we want to be ready to go. ... We got all the mistakes out of our system and will to be ready to go."
Montreal's goalies -- Carey Price and Keith Kinkaid -- have seen plenty of the Hurricanes in recent years.
Price has dealt with a bruised hand during preseason but he's expected to be on board as the season opens.
Kinkaid arrived from the New Jersey Devils during the offseason.
Carolina will begin with goalie Petr Mrazek drawing the assignment on Thursday. He was used for a full game in the preseason finale Sunday as a way to put him through a 60-minute exercise.
The Hurricanes begin with defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk on the non-roster injured reserve list. Also, free-agent signee Ryan Dzingel was injured during a preseason game and has worked his way back to the ice, but his status for the opener is in question.
"Every team has to deal with it," Brind'Amour said of injuries. "Looks like we're dealing with it right out of the gate."
--Field Level Media
Updated October 2, 2019