Leafs Close Out Back-To-Back In Carolina
MAPLE LEAFS (11-7-2) at HURRICANES (6-11-3)
TV: LEAFS TV
Last 10: Toronto 4-5-1; Carolina 2-8-0
Season Series: This is the first of four meetings. The teams split four games last season, with Toronto winning the last one 3-1 on the strength of captain Dion Phaneuf's two power-play goals.
Big Story: Toronto got the lift it was looking for Saturday night in a 7-1 shelling of Washington at the Air Canada Center. Despite the quick turnaround, the Leafs will be energized for their late-afternoon date in Raleigh. The Hurricanes are trying to avoid being shut out for the third straight game.
Maple Leafs: Toronto was in a slump and riddled with injuries, but on Saturday the Leafs could do no wrong. Seven players scored goals, Joffrey Lupul had four points and Toronto destroyed Washington in front of a delighted full house at the Air Canada Centre.
"It was just one of those nights," Lupul said. "We knew we were on the verge of one of those breakout nights and everyone contributed tonight, the power play was good, the penalty kill was good, Monster (Jonas Gustavsson) was awesome, so (it was) just a good night for us."
Hurricanes: Things are going from bad to worse in Carolina. Losers of three in a row and eight of 10, the 'Canes were shut out 4-0 in Montreal on Wednesday and 1-0 at home by Buffalo two days later. Carolina failed to score on Friday despite recording 73 shot attempts and 34 shots on goal. Afterwards, coach Paul Maurice praised his team for everything but the execution.
"The zero on our side tonight and the zero on our side in Montreal are two completely different animals," said Maurice, whose team held a 76-43 advantage in shot attempts. "Putting the puck past the goalie wasn't there tonight, but everything else was. That was the best all-around team game we've played this year I think."
Who's Hot: With his four-point Saturday night, Lupul has five goals and eight assists on 29 shots in his last nine games. His 10 goals are more than he had all last season. "I have a lot of confidence right now, I could tell right from training camp that I felt pretty good, I was confident with my game, I was confident with the way my body felt for the first time in a long time," Lupul said. "I didn't expect this type of start but I expected myself to play well."
Injury Report: For the 'Canes, defenseman Joni Pitkanen has missed the last four games with a lower body injury. … MikhailGrabovski (lower body), Clarke MacArthur (upper body),Mike Komisarek (broken arm), Colby Armstrong (ankle sprain), and Matthew Lombardi (upper body) were all out against Washington. Starting goaltender James Reimer has missed four weeks with concussion-like symptoms.
Stat Pack: If the 'Canes could pick a starting goalie to break their shutout streak against, odds are it would be Gustavsson. The big Swede owns the worst GAA among qualified goalies (3.46) and has conceded three or more goals in seven of his 10 starts. But like the rest of the Leafs, Gustavsson rewrote the script Saturday with 40 saves - 33 in the final two periods - for his first win since Nov. 2.
Puck Drop: "There is no pity party and no one is going to feel bad for the Carolina Hurricanes around the league. I know guys are frustrated we didn't score, but I'm telling you that was pretty solid for us. That's something to take to the rink tomorrow and to the game on Sunday." - Hurricanes goalie Brian Boucher reflects on his team's recent struggles.