‘Canes hope to start streak vs. Leafs
RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes are in what seems like a rare position this week.
They’re coming off a victory.
It needs to become a habit.
“Winning is a lot more fun, isn’t it?” Hurricanes captain Justin Williams said. “We need to start something rolling here. We need to get it going soon.”
The next opportunity for that comes against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night at PNC Arena.
The Maple Leafs have developed that winning feeling with a four-game winning streak that includes Monday night’s 4-2 comeback victory against the St. Louis Blues.
“It was a four-line win and those are important,” Maple Leafs left winger Zach Hyman said.
The Hurricanes haven’t been as consistent during the past few weeks, winning three of their last 10 games (3-5-2).
Yet in an uneven performance Sunday against the New Jersey Devils, they came out on top. That was largely due to two goals in the opening 30 seconds.
Carolina is 6-2-0 when scoring first.
“We haven’t gotten the first goal as much as we would like this season,” center Jordan Staal said, noting the difference in that outing. “It wasn’t our best game, but I felt like we worked hard.”
What the Hurricanes are counting on is that 2-1 result being a springboard to a stretch of better outcomes.
“It’s good for us to play some close games like that to have some confidence later in the season,” Williams said.
That’s something that Maple Leafs have latched on to.
They’ve learned that that persistence can pay off.
“Our team never gives up and that’s something special,” said Toronto right winger Mitch Marner. “This team shows no quit. That’s something that we need to keep going forward.”
This marks the first meeting of the season between the Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.
It could involve Carolina goalie Curtis McElhinney against his former team. McElhinney had gone through a long stretch of inactivity until posting his team-leading fourth victory Sunday.
“You want to get back in there and feel the rhythm,” McElhinney said. “When you get an opportunity, you want to show you’re more than capable to help this team get wins.”
The Hurricanes claimed McElhinney off waivers from the Maple Leafs right before the start of the regular season.
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said the matchup with Toronto comes with an obvious connection.
“He wants to play every night,” Brind’Amour said while being cautious in committing to giving McElhinney this assignment.
McElhinney has been used just twice since Oct. 20.
Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs count on goalie Frederik Andersen.
“He has been the MVP of this team,” said Marner, who has a team-high 28 points. “He expects himself to be the best every night. … He hasn’t been anything short of that.”
Toronto center John Tavares has four of his team-best 13 goals in the last five games.
The Hurricanes are led by Micheal Ferland’s 10 goals.
This marks the fifth game in a six-game homestand for Carolina. The Maple Leafs will return to Raleigh on Dec. 11.