The Carolina Hurricanes are suddenly in a tight race while trying to solidify their spot in the Eastern Conference playoff pecking order.
The Hurricanes have clinched a playoff spot, but their status atop the Metropolitan Division is shaky.
The Montreal Canadiens have no such concerns becausethey won't be in the postseason, though they'd like to snap a two-game losing streak when Carolina visits Saturday night.
The game is a matchup of first vs. worst -- Carolina is atop the Metropolitan for now, while Montreal is in last place in the Atlantic Division.
The Hurricanes (47-18-9, 103 points) have lost three games in a row, including the past two in regulation. They've avoided going three consecutive games without a point all season heading into Saturday.
Carolina suffered a 3-2 setback Thursday night at Detroit by allowing a goal with four seconds remaining. The Red Wings scored on their first and final shots of the game.
"We played good enough to win," coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "... In the third period we were pretty solid until we take a penalty there, and that kind of flipped the momentum."
Carolina's lead in its division is down to one point on New Jersey, though the Hurricanes have a game in hand.
The Canadiens (30-40-6, 66 points) lost 5-2 to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night at home. That left Montreal with a 2-3-2 record in March home games.
The Canadiens don't have nearly as much at stake in their final six games, something that's clear to Montreal coach Martin St. Louis as he tries to groom the team for better things in the future.
"It's hard to fake it," St. Louis said. "We're going to have to find a way here to bring that energy down the stretch and try to finish on a good note."
Center Sean Farrell scored his first NHL goal in his second game Thursday night for Montreal. He said his comfort level has grown this week as he adjusts to the new setting.
"I just have to be in the right spots, and I know they'll find me," Farrell said.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes were without winger Teuvo Teravainen on Thursday night because of illness. There was no update on his status Friday.
The Hurricanes have gone 1-for-14 on power plays across a six-game stretch. They failed on all three chances in Detroit.
"We had a couple of power-play opportunities and we have to make sure we're getting good shots on that," defenseman Jaccob Slavin said.
The issue has been troublesome for Carolina for an extended stretch.
"Our power play has been a struggle," Brind'Amour said. "We did nothing with ours. That's the difference in the game too, if you really want to break it down."
The Hurricanes have defeated Montreal in both meetings this season. Carolina took a 6-2 decision on Feb. 16 at home and a 4-3 shootout victory March 7 at Montreal.
The Hurricanes had Frederik Andersen in net for the second matchup of the season with Montreal. He could be called upon again, though Antti Raanta is available after missing time with an injury. Carolina reassigned goalie Pyotr Kochetkov to AHL affiliate Chicago on Wednesday.
--Field Level Media