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Neither the Carolina Hurricanes nor the Toronto Maple Leafs are playing good hockey right now. Given their recent history against each other, the Hurricanes would appear to have the better chance at ending their slide.
Carolina tries to avoid its first four-game losing streak of the season Thursday night when it hosts a Toronto club seeking to halt a four-game skid.
The Hurricanes (21-18-5) have dominated this series recently, winning five of six matchups with the Maple Leafs (16-21-6) since the start of last season, including all three meetings at the RBC Center. Carolina has totaled 28 goals in its last six games versus Toronto.
Both matchups in 2008-09 have been high-scoring affairs. The Hurricanes beat the Leafs 6-4 at home on Nov. 2, then scored four first-period goals two nights later in Toronto before eventually winning 5-4 in overtime on a Niclas Wallin game-winner.
Center Mikhail Grabovski was the biggest bright spot for Toronto in the November home-and-home series, scoring a pair of goals in each game to comprise one-third of his season total of 12.
The Maple Leafs appear to be ripe for the taking again entering this contest. They've lost four straight games, five of six and eight of 10, and are trying to avoid their second five-game skid of the season. Toronto dropped five in a row from Oct. 11-21, following a season-opening win over Detroit.
The Leafs have managed just five total goals during their current four-game slide, and mustered a season-low 17 shots on net Tuesday night en route to their second shutout loss of the season, 2-0 at home to Nashville despite 21 saves from goalie Vesa Toskala.
"We were doing a lot of the little things right, but we didn't drive the net like we should and we didn't fire enough shots on net. Under 20 shots is not enough for this team," Toronto center Matt Stajan said.
"It's frustrating, we wasted a solid effort by Vesa. There's not much else to say. We've got to be better."
The Maple Leafs will try to follow the lead of another team from Ontario. The Senators were mired in a five-game losing streak before beating the Hurricanes 5-1 on Tuesday night in Ottawa.
Like Toronto, the Hurricanes failed to support their starting goaltender. Making his ninth consecutive start in net, Cam Ward stopped 35 shots but couldn't overcome all the pressure he faced.
"He obviously does the best he can every night and things fall squarely on our shoulders, the guys who are playing in front of him right now," said defenseman Joe Corvo, who scored Carolina's lone goal in the defeat.
The loss completed a winless three-game road trip for the Hurricanes, who are trying to avoid their first four-game skid since Jan. 10-17, 2008. A return home could help, as Carolina has won six of its last seven contests at the RBC Center.
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