The Hurricanes played arguably their best period of the year in the second frame Thursday, but it was sandwiched by two lackluster periods, leading to a 4-2 loss to Montreal in Raleigh. Carey Price made 41 saves and Montreal got two third-period goals to stay on top of the Eastern Conference. Carolina is now 13-9-1 with 27 points and has a four-point cushion over second-place Winnipeg in the Southeast Division. Here's a closer look at Thursday's loss. Three Observations 1. Carolina’s second period showed what the Hurricanes are capable of. While it was not sustained for 60 minutes, that was as much about lost momentum as exhaustion. Jeff Skinner’s slashing penalty at 13:18 of the second seemed to slow the Canes, who managed to kill off the penalty and draw an Eric Staal penalty shot, but the team never seemed to regain the ferocity they exhibited in the first 10 or so minutes of the middle frame. 2. Who knew that the Hurricanes would miss Riley Nash, a player who wasn't even on the opening day roster, so much, but they did. Not to knock Nash, but it's not because he is a dominant player, but rather the role he fills and how the dominoes fall with him out of the lineup. Back at center do to Nash's illness, Jussi Jokinen was back to looking out of place. And while Patrick Dwyer’s return to the second line was a welcome move — he had the perfect screen on Jordan Staal’s goal — the lack of third line production was evident.