NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, March 16th (All times eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (30-30-10) at Carolina Hurricanes (32-28-10), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - While the Carolina Hurricanes can move into a tie for the Eastern Conference's final postseason spot with a win this evening, the Toronto Maple Leafs desperately need a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Hurricanes try to make it two straight victories Wednesday night at the RBC Center against a Maple Leafs club that has points in six straight on the road.
Carolina pulled to within two points of eighth-place Buffalo with last night's 1-0 triumph over the Sabres. The clubs both have 12 games remaining in the regular season, but Buffalo is idle tonight.
Brandon Sutter scored his team's only goal late in the first period on Tuesday, while Cam Ward made 22 of his 40 saves in the opening frame. Ward outdueled Buffalo's Ryan Miller in net to pick up his third shutout of the season and 15th of his career.
"I thought both goaltenders were very good," said Hurricanes forward Eric Staal. "They made some unbelievable saves on both sides. Cam was a difference- maker for sure."
Carolina snapped an 0-3-1 slide despite being without rookie defenseman Jamie McBain due to an upper-body injury that will sideline him for 3-to-4 weeks.
Things are a little more dire for Toronto, which has lost four of its last five to fall six points back of Buffalo with 12 games to go. The Maple Leafs were routed 6-2 by the Lightning in their most recent trip to the ice on Monday.
"We're going to have to find a way to regroup and bounce back," Toronto head coach Ron Wilson said.
Dion Phaneuf and Nikolai Kulemin lit the lamp for the Maple Leafs, who lost Colby Armstrong for the rest of the season in the game after he was hit in the foot with a shot. Armstrong had just eight goals and 23 points in 50 games this season and the Maple Leafs recalled Nazem Kadri to replace him in the lineup.
Kadri, the seventh overall pick of the 2009 draft, has six assists in 17 games this year, but is still looking for his first career goal.
Making his 12th straight start, James Reimer gave up five goals on 29 shots before being replaced by Jean-Sebastien Giguere during the third period. Giguere made six saves on seven shots faced in relief.
Reimer notched his first career shutout when the Maple Leafs last faced the Hurricanes on Feb. 3, a 3-0 home victory. However, Giguere is expected to make the start tonight, his first since Feb. 16, and is 2-5-0 with a tie and 3.28 goals-against average lifetime when facing Carolina.
Toronto plays two straight and five of its next six on the road. The Leafs are 4-0-2 in their past six as the guest.
Carolina had won five straight over Toronto prior to that February loss and has won two straight and five of the last seven in this series at home. The Hurricanes begin a three-game homestand tonight.
Ward is 9-7-1 with a 3.15 GAA versus the Maple Leafs.
03/16 10:31:11 ET