NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, December 29th
(All times Eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (18-14-4) at Carolina Hurricanes (12-20-6), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to rebound from a poor
defensive effort when they continue a four-game road trip with tonight's test
against the Carolina Hurricanes at RBC Center.
Toronto had won two straight before dropping a 5-3 decision Tuesday against
the Florida Panthers, who scored three times during a span of less than five
minutes in the second period to take control of the game. Former Maple Leaf
forward Kris Versteeg capped the burst, giving the Panthers a 4-1 edge just
6:55 into the second period.
Mikhail Grabovski scored two goals and Dion Phaneuf netted the other marker
for Toronto, which was trying to win two straight for the first time since
Nov. 22-27. It was the second time in two meetings this year that Florida
torched the Leafs for five goals, as the Panthers also posted a 5-1 victory in
Toronto on Nov. 8.
"We had a couple of real major mistakes by the defense," Toronto coach Ron
Toronto goaltender James Reimer faced only eight shots, but was pulled after
allowing Florida's third goal of the game at 4:13 of the second. Jonas
Gustavsson, who last started a game on Dec. 17, stopped 16-of-18 shots in
The Leafs, who are seeded seventh in the Eastern Conference, are 10-9-0 as the
visiting team this season. Toronto will cap its swing Saturday in Winnipeg
before returning home for four straight at the Air Canada Centre.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes, who are ahead of only the New York Islanders in the
East, also had a two-game winning streak halted in their last trip to the ice.
Carolina was coming off home wins over Ottawa and New Jersey, but was dealt a
4-2 setback Tuesday in Pittsburgh. James Neal recorded a goal and one assist
as the Penguins used a three-goal third period to defeat the Hurricanes at
CONSOL Energy Center.
Tuomo Ruutu and Tim Brent scored for the Hurricanes, while backup goaltender
Justin Peters took the loss despite making a career-best 48 saves. Regular
starter Cam Ward is expected back between the pipes tonight.
The Hurricanes have won two straight and three of their last four games at
home, but are still just 8-10-2 as the host this year.
The Maple Leafs and Hurricanes have split two meetings this year, with each
club earning a victory on home ice. Toronto has won three of four overall in
the series, but Carolina has taken three of four in Raleigh.
12/29 10:52:48 ET