Good news for Carolina Hurricane fans is, Eric Staal won’t be traded, bad news they are still the bottom feeders in the Eastern Conference.
It’s been nearly a year since Carolina has won three in a row at home. A matchup with a Toronto Maple Leafs team that has been struggling on the road could help the Hurricanes accomplish that feat.
Carolina posted a win over the Maple Leafs at the RBC Center last month, and it will look to do the same Thursday night when these teams meet for the third time this season.
The last-place Hurricanes (12-20-6) won just five of their first 16 home games before winning three of their past four, including the last two.
Carolina beat Ottawa 2-1 in overtime Friday and New Jersey 4-2 on Monday before falling 4-2 at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. The Hurricanes haven’t won three straight at home since Feb. 25-March 3.
They beat Toronto 3-2 at home Nov. 20 and then lost five in a row in Raleigh.
The Maple Leafs (18-14-4) went on to win their next three on the road following that loss but have since dropped four of six away from home. They’ve given up 17 goals in the last four road games while letting opponents go 10 for 17 on the power play.
They beat the New York Islanders 5-3 on Friday to open a four-game trip before losing 5-3 to Florida on Tuesday night.
Toronto has lost three of its last four visits to Carolina but did beat the Hurricanes 2-1 in overtime at home Dec. 13.
James Reimer made 18 saves in that game, and he’ll be eager to get back in net Thursday night after being pulled against the Panthers.
Reimer allowed five goals on eight shots before being replaced by Jonas Gustavsson 4:13 into the second period. He had won his previous two starts.
Cam Ward stopped 36 shots in the Dec. 13 matchup and will return to action Thursday after getting a rare night off Tuesday. Justin Peters made his season debut for the Hurricanes and had 48 saves as the Penguins outshot Carolina 52-18.
Tim Brent and Tuomo Ruutu scored for the Hurricanes, who had won consecutive games for only the third time this season before coming to Pittsburgh.
Ward has lost three of his last four starts versus Toronto and is 10-8-2 with a 3.02 GAA against the Maple Leafs.
Toronto forward Phil Kessel, among the league leaders with 20 goals, scored twice at Carolina last month and has four points in his last three visits to Raleigh.
Jussi Jokinen has a goal and an assist for Carolina in the two matchups with Toronto this season to give him 12 points in 12 career games against the Hurricanes.
Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul, who has recorded a point in nine of his last 10 games, has two assists against Carolina this season.
Toronto Maple Leafs – James Reimer
Carolina Hurricanes – Cam Ward
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