Maple Leafs-Hurricanes Preview
As the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to find their overall rhythm, the Carolina Hurricanes are still searching for some on the offensive end.
Looking to win for the fifth time in six contests, the visiting Maple Leafs can halt their struggles in this series by extending the Hurricanes' season-high losing streak to five games Friday night.
Toronto (6-9-4) managed six points in its first 12 games, but has recorded at least one in six of the last seven.
“We've got lots of good things happening,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “We've got to keep building the group. We're confident that as long as we keep building everyday we can have success over the long haul.”
The Maple Leafs perhaps took a major step in that progression Tuesday by going 4 for 5 on the power play and also recording a short-handed goal in their 5-1 victory over Colorado. Toronto had scored eight times on 53 opportunities with the man advantage going into that contest.
It has 12 goals in the last three games.
''We're all pretty comfortable where we are and we're moving the puck, we're bringing the puck to the net and good things are happening for us,'' said veteran P.A. Parenteau, who scored two power-play goals Tuesday and has recorded all but two of his nine points in his last eight contests.
''It's a very tough league to score goals 5-on-5, we all know that, so it's nice to have nights like (Tuesday).”
The Maple Leafs also killed all four penalties and James Reimer made 34 saves to win his fourth consecutive start. Reimer has a 1.62 goals-against average during his 4-0-2 stretch.
“We've had more success of late so guys are feeling good,” Babcock said. “You try to maximize each other and build the people up … It takes time for you to figure it out. It's the whole program. Getting them believing.”
The Maple Leafs must figure out how to beat Carolina (6-10-2), which has held them to four goals while winning the last four meetings. The Hurricanes have outscored Toronto 22-9 during a six-game home winning streak.
Carolina, though, has been outscored 13-5 over its current 0-2-2 stretch. The Hurricanes are among the NHL leaders averaging 30.6 shots on goal, but their 35 goals rank near the bottom of the league.
“We've got to keep playing,” coach Bill Peters told the NHL's official website. “There's lots of hockey left. We've got to find a way to get going a little bit more and score more.”
Even shots on net have been hard to come by of late for Carolina, which had 21 in Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to Philadelphia and 25 in the 4-1 defeat to Anaheim on Monday.
“We're pretty desperate right now. We need to win hockey games,” said rookie defenseman Noah Hanifin, who recorded his first goal Monday.
Cam Ward, who could be back in net after getting Monday off, has allowed three goals in each game of his 0-1-2 stretch. He's posted a 1.73 GAA during a four-game home winning streak against Toronto.
Teammate Eric Staal hasn't scored in six consecutive games, but has eight goals and eight assists in his last 12 against the Maple Leafs.