NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, October 17th (All times Eastern)
Carolina Hurricanes (2-2-3) at Toronto Maple Leafs (6-1-0), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs will aim for their seventh win in eight games to begin the season when they host the Carolina Hurricanes in Thursday's battle at Air Canada Centre.
The Maple Leafs currently are on their second three-game winning streak of the season, having opened the campaign with three straight victories before suffering their only loss on Oct. 8 against Colorado. Toronto has beaten Nashville, Edmonton and Minnesota since that home loss to the Avalanche and is sitting atop the Atlantic Division with 12 points.
Toronto's last two wins came on home ice and the club is wrapping a three-game stand at ACC on Thursday. The Maple Leafs were last in action on Tuesday, when Mason Raymond tallied a pair of goals to help Toronto record a 4-1 decision over the Minnesota Wild.
Raymond scored his first of the game in the second period and added a late empty-netter for Toronto, which is shooting for its first four-game winning streak since Feb. 5-11 of last season.
Tyler Bozak and Trevor Smith also scored in Tuesday's victory.
"It was tough, they're a good team," said Bozak. "They play hard, they don't give you much out there. We found a way to get it done, and that's the most important thing."
James Reimer, making his first appearance in goal after he was pulled for Jonathan Bernier in the second period of a win over Ottawa on Oct. 5, stood tall between the pipes, stopping 37-of-38 shots.
"You want contribution from everybody all over the ice," said Raymond. "Reims tonight was huge. From our standpoint, we didn't have the best game ever, didn't have a lot of shots on net, but at the end of the day we found a way to win."
It's unclear if Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle will use Bernier or Reimer as the starter tonight. Bernier is 1-1-0 with a 2.52 goals against average in his career against Carolina, while Reimer is 4-1-1 with a 2.15 GAA versus the Hurricanes.
Carolina has lost three straight heading into Thursday's contest, but the 'Canes were able to record a point in two of those setbacks, including Tuesday's 3-2 shootout loss against visiting Chicago. Patrick Sharp scored in the third round of the shootout to help the Blackhawks take a 3-2 win, but Carolina overcame a 2-0 deficit in the third period to steal a point from the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Alexander Semin and Ron Hainsey scored in the third period for the Hurricanes, who haven't won since beating Washington on Oct. 10.
Cam Ward finished the game with 34 saves, but fell to 0-2-3 on the season.
Trailing by two goals entering the third period, the Hurricanes made it a one- goal game 3:54 in as a big slap shot from the right circle by Eric Staal was stopped, but the rebound sat on the doorstep and Semin swept it in for his second of the year.
Carolina tied the game with 7:27 to play, as Hainsey wound up with the puck at the left point and threw it on net. The disc sailed past several players and beat a screened Crawford.
"To come back and tie the game in the third period is a huge confidence booster for this team," said Ward. "We just have to learn how to finish these games."
Ward is 13-8-2 with a 2.78 GAA in 23 career outings against Toronto and is expected to get the call on Thursday.
Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk sat out Tuesday's game with an undisclosed injury and he is questionable for tonight. Carolina's Elias Lindholm has sat out the last two tilts with an upper-body issue and the centerman is also questionable for Thursday's contest.
Toronto posted a 6-3 home win over the Hurricanes when the clubs last met on March 28. That victory ended a four-game slide in the series for the Maple Leafs, who only have two wins in the last seven games against Carolina.
Toronto has claimed three of the last five meetings at Air Canada Centre, but the Hurricanes have taken seven of the past 10 encounters on the road.
10/17 10:36:39 ET