NHL Preview: Carolina Hurricanes vs Toronto Maple Leafs

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Hurricanes (7-4-1) vs Leafs (8-5-0) 7 p.m.

There really is no place like home.

After a six-game road trip, the Carolina Hurricanes finally return home to host the red hot Toronto Maple Leafs. Yes, I did just use the words red hot and Leafs in the same sentence. The Leafs have won four straight games. Their last loss? A 4-1 defeat back on February 4th against, you guessed it, the Hurricanes.

Both of these team’s offenses rank among the top 10 in scoring. Carolina is averaging 3.17 goals per contest, ranking 5th in the league. Meanwhile, Toronto is scoring exactly three per game, placing them seventh in hockey. Expect there to be quite the fair share of goals throughout this contest.

Toronto may not have as easy of a time lighting the lamp, as emerging Matt Frattin (knee) will likely miss the next week of action. He has seven goals and three assists through just ten games. Look for Nazem Kadri to play a much bigger role in that offense, although he has already been huge for the Leafs thus far.

Carolina’s offense is smoking hot, posting 10 goals over the past two contests. You can most certainly thank captain Eric Staal for this team’s success on offense, as he is currently riding a 10-game point streak. Phil Kessel, meanwhile, started off slow but has really come alive for the Leafs, posting at least one point in each of the last four games. Kessel waking up from his scoreless slumber has been a huge reason why the Leafs have been succesful.

Between the Pipes

For the Hurricanes, it’ll be Cam Ward in the cage. Ward has dealt with consistency issues over the course of the season, but has been better as of late. On the year, he is sporting a GAA of 3.22 to match a .902 save percentage.

With netminder James Reimer suffering from a strained knee ligament, the Leafs will have to leanon Ben Scrivens in goal. He looked extremely sharp after spelling the injured Reimer during the team’s 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night.

Notes

Leafs have lost seven of last 10 meetings in Carolina.

Staal, Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty have been one of the league’s hottest first lines, all three are among hockey’s top 10 in plus/minus.

Defenseman Joni Pitkanen will be inactive for this game and is listed as day-to-day.

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