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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, March 27th (All times eastern)

Carolina Hurricanes (38-29-8) at Toronto Maple Leafs (36-29-10), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pivotal battle in the Eastern Conference playoff races will take place tonight in Toronto, as the Maple Leafs invite the Carolina Hurricanes to Air Canada Centre.

Carolina comes into Tuesday's action with 84 points and is tied with the New York Islanders and Montreal for the eighth and final postseason berth in the East. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs are still very much in the mix with 82 points.

The Hurricanes are in the midst of a three-game winning streak and the latest triumph came Saturday over the visiting San Jose Sharks. Andrew Ladd notched his first two-goal game of the season as Carolina held off a late rally to post the 6-4 win at RBC Center.

Scott Walker posted three assists for the Hurricanes, who have won four of five. Cory Stillman had a goal and an assist while Erik Cole, Eric Staal and Ray Whitney also lit the lamp. Cam Ward stopped 20-of-24 shots to earn the victory.

Beginning this evening, the Hurricanes will play four of their next five games on the road. Carolina is 18-15-4 as the visiting team on the year.

The Leafs had lost three of four games before defeating the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. Darcy Tucker scored twice and Andrew Raycroft stopped 19 shots to lift Toronto over the Sabres, 4-1.

Nik Antropov had a goal and an assist while Bryan McCabe and Kyle Wellwood notched two assists each for Toronto, which rebounded to win the second half of a home-and-home. The Sabres downed the Maple Leafs, 5-4, in Buffalo on Friday, rallying from a 4-1 deficit.

This evening's test marks the end of a brief two-game homestand for Toronto, which is just 17-15-5 as the hosts.

The Maple Leafs have earned two wins in three meetings with Carolina this season and have taken five of the last nine encounters in the series.

03/27 11:01:21 ET

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