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April 1, 2023: Hurricanes at Canadiens — five things you should know

Former Hab Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored the winning goal in a shootout last time Carolina played at the Bell Centre.

Old friend Jesperi Kotkaniemi will return to the Bell Centre when the Hurricanes visit on Saturday. KK has 14-22-36 totals in 74 games this season.
Old friend Jesperi Kotkaniemi will return to the Bell Centre when the Hurricanes visit on Saturday. KK has 14-22-36 totals in 74 games this season. Photo by John Mahoney /Montreal Gazette

Here are five things you should know about Saturday’s game between the Canadiens (30-40-6) and the Carolina Hurricanes (47-18-9) at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., SNE, CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

End is near: The Canadiens are sitting in 28th place in the overall NHL standings with six games left in the season, including four at home. The Canadiens have a 16-18-3 record at the Bell Centre after going 11-26-4 at home last season when they finished last in the 32-team league with 55 points (22-49-11). The Canadiens, coming off a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers Thursday at the Bell Centre, already have 11 more points than they finished with last season. They will finish the season on April 13 when the Boston Bruins visit the Bell Centre.

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Hot HP sauce: Rafaël Harvey-Pinard scored again against the Panthers, giving him five goals in the last four games. Harvey-Pinard has 14 goals in 32 games since getting called up from the AHL’s Laval Rocket and is now tied with Kirby Dach for fourth on the Canadiens in goals, trailing Cole Caufield (26), Nick Suzuki (23) and Josh Anderson (21). The 24-year-old Harvey-Pinard, who can become a restricted free agent this summer, is on a pace that would see him score 36 goals over a full 82-game NHL season.

Highest single season goals-per-game by a @CanadiensMTL rookie (minimum 25 GP):
0.55- Dickie Moore (1951-52)
0.54- Gilbert Dionne (1991-92)
0.45- Fern Majeau (1943-44)
0.45- Bernie Geoffrion (1951-52)
0.44- Rafael Harvey-Pinard (2022-23 via 14 in 32)
0.44- Johnny Gagnon (1930-31)

— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) March 31, 2023

First goal for Farrell: Sean Farrell scored his first goal on his first shot in the NHL only 1:23 into the first period against Florida. It was a weak shot that Panthers goalie Alex Lyon should have stopped, but they all count and it’s a goal Farrell will never forget. It was the only shot Farrell had while logging 14:45 of ice time in his second NHL game. In his NHL debut Tuesday in Philadelphia, Farrell had no shots in 13:03 of ice time as the Canadiens lost 3-2 to the Flyers. Farrell is only the seventh player in Canadiens history to wear No. 57 after Chris Murray, Dainius Zubrus, Garth Murray, Benoît Pouliot, Blake Geoffrion and Martin St. Pierre.

KK is back: The last time the Canadiens and Hurricanes met on March 7 at the Bell Centre, Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored the shootout winner for Carolina in a 4-3 victory. The former Canadien, selected with the No. 3 overall pick at the 2018 NHL draft, has 14-22-36 totals in 74 games this season and has a plus-10 differential while winning 51.9 per cent of his faceoffs. In the four games Kotkaniemi has played against the Canadiens since joining the Hurricanes, he has 2-1-3 totals, plus the shootout goal. The 22-year-old is in the first season of an eight-year, US$38.56-million contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $4.82 million.

Hurricane warning: The Hurricanes have the second-best record in the NHL, 13 points behind the Boston Bruins (58-12-5), who have already clinched the Presidents’ Trophy as regular-season champions. Martin Necas leads the Hurricanes in scoring with 27-41-68 totals, followed by Sebastian Aho (33-30-63), Andrei Svechnikov (23-32-55) and defenceman Brent Burns (14-41-55).

  1. Anton Lundell #15 of the Florida Panthers scores on goaltender Sam Montembeault #35 of the Montreal Canadiens during the third period at Centre Bell on March 30, 2023 in Montreal.

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  2. Canadiens' Mike Matheson tries to control a rolling puck under pressure from Hurricanes' Andrei Svechnikov during a game in early March at the Bell Centre.

    Stu Cowan: Backyard rinks helped Canadiens' Matheson develop his skating ability