Habs looking to rebound when they host Hurricanes

The Montreal Canadiens will be looking to rebound from their most lop-sided loss of the season on Thursday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at Bell Centre.

The Canadiens were defeated 7-1 by the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday to close out a three-game road trip that had started with wins over the Ottawa Senators and the Chicago Blackhawks.

“It was a disgrace,” forward Nicolas Deslauriers told montrealcanadiens.com. “We had a game plan. Things were going well on this trip. We had an opportunity to pick up another win, but we didn’t start well and we had to play from behind. We left our goaltender to try and do the impossible and that’s what happens in those kinds of situations.”

Canadiens goaltender Antti Niemi, playing for the first time since Nov. 23, gave up seven goals on 24 shots before being pulled. Carey Price is expected to get the start against the Hurricanes, who defeated the Canadiens 2-1 in their last meeting at Bell Centre Nov. 27.

The Canadiens (15-11-5) are holding onto the second wild card position in the Eastern Conference.

“We can choose to look at this two ways,” Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher told the team’s website. “It can crush us for a few games or it can show the type of character we have in this locker room. Honestly, I don’t think we’ve been tested like this in this locker room this year, so I think it’s a good opportunity for us to respond and show the character we have in this locker room.

“I think we need to regroup here and understand the mistakes that we made. Not only the mistakes, the compete level, the battle level and the work ethic that’s been there, for the most part, all year.”

Offence has been the issue for the Hurricanes (13-12-4) and in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division. The Hurricanes have been held to two goals or less in six of their past seven games (2-4-1) and to one goal or fewer in five of those games. Carolina is coming off a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at home on Tuesday.

“We said it before the game, that we were playing one of the best offensive teams in the league and we needed everyone on board tonight,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour told NHL.com. “They didn’t have to play great, but everyone needed a good game, and I don’t think we got that.”

“We’re not committed enough to doing it every single time we’re out there,” Carolina forward Justin Williams, who scored against the Maple Leafs, told NHL.com. “That was a tough one because we were right there.” The Hurricanes were tied 1-1 with the Maple Leafs after Williams scored at 12:44 of the second period.

“We had that game 1-1 and we were hanging in there, but we lost some battles on the walls and the second goal deflated us,” Brind’Amour said. “The third one broke our backs. The bench just felt like that was it, and it was.”

The Hurricanes placed veteran forward Jordan Staal on injured reserve with a concussion on Wednesday. He had missed the previous two games. The Hurricanes called up their leading scorer for their American Hockey League affiliate in Charlotte, forward Janne Kuokkanen, who has 11 goals and 16 assists and is eighth in the AHL with 27 points. He was the No. 42 pick in the 2016 NHL draft.

Hurricanes forward Micheal Ferland left the game against the Maple Leafs in the first period with an upper body injury. He missed the previous four games with a concussion.