NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, December 28th (All times eastern)
Carolina Hurricanes (15-15-4) at Toronto Maple Leafs (13-17-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes will try to avoid their longest losing streak of the season when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at Air Canada Centre.
The Hurricanes have matched a season-worst skid with three straight losses and all three setbacks have come in regulation. Carolina, which is eight points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, hasn't lost four in a row since a five-game slide from Nov. 23-30 of last season.
After losing their last two games before the Christmas break, the Hurricanes emerged from their down time with Sunday's close loss to the visiting Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin notched a goal and an assist to help lift the Capitals to the 3-2 decision at RBC Center.
Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu scored for the Hurricanes, who had won four in a row prior to this current slide. Cam Ward turned aside 27 shots for Carolina.
"It's frustrating any time," Ruutu said. "I thought we played pretty good hockey the last couple of games, we just couldn't get enough goals."
Tonight marks the first of two straight on the road for Carolina, which will also visit Ottawa tomorrow night. The Hurricanes had a three-game road winning streak halted their last time out as the visitor and Paul Maurice's club is 8-8-3 away from Raleigh this season.
The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, won their first game following the Christmas break as they ended a three-game slide with Sunday's decisive victory in New Jersey. Colby Armstrong scored a pair of goals and Toronto jumped out to a 3-0 lead en route to a 4-1 decision over the lowly Devils.
John Mitchell and Nikolai Kulemin also lit the lamp for the Leafs, while Jonas Gustavsson made 29 saves for the win. Mikhail Grabovski added an assist to give him four goals and two assists during a five-game point streak.
Gustavsson is expected to make his fourth straight start in place of the injured Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who is still battling a groin issue. Gustavsson is 1-1-1 with a 3.25 GAA in three career starts against the Hurricanes.
Ward is 7-6-1 with a 3.10 GAA in 14 lifetime games against Toronto.
Toronto is 8-7-3 as the host this year and has lost four of its last six on home ice.
Tonight's tilt is the first of four scheduled meetings between the Leafs and Hurricanes this season. Carolina took three of four from Toronto last year and has won seven of nine overall in the series. The 'Canes have also won four in a row and five of their last six at the Air Canada Centre.
12/28 10:59:59 ET