TORONTO - Just three games remain in the 2018-19 regular season for the Carolina Hurricanes, who make their first and only visit to Toronto to square off with the Maple Leafs.
The Hurricanes, who still occupy a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, are looking to rebound from a 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Three teams separated by two points. Two playoff spots. Three games remaining.
That's what this comes down to.
Fortunately for the Hurricanes, they're on the right side of the playoff cut line, even despite dropping a 3-1 decision in Pittsburgh on Sunday. They trail Columbus by a point for the first wild card seed, and, on the outside looking in, Montreal trails the Canes by a point.
The road ahead is simple: win and you're in.
"We know where we're at," Justin Faulk said. "We know every point matters right now."
"We're not getting help," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We're going to have to win our games, that's just it. Take care of our business and don't rely on anybody else."
The Hurricanes have lost consecutive games in regulation just twice in 2019. They'll look to avoid suffering the same fate a third time - and twice in the last week - when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"We've got to flush it … and come back Tuesday ready to play," Jaccob Slavin said after Sunday's loss. "Only a couple games left. Nothing to save it for. We've got to get to the playoffs."
De Haan Out, Fleury In
Hurricanes defenseman Calvin de Haan suffered an upper-body injury in the second period of Sunday's game in Pittsburgh. De Haan did not return to the game and returned to Raleigh afterward for further evaluation.
Haydn Fleury was recalled from Charlotte on Monday. The 22-year-old defenseman has posted assists in each of his last four AHL games and will likely pair with Trevor van Riemsdyk on the Canes' blue line.
The Last Meeting
The Maple Leafs twice visited Raleigh in the first half of the season, and their most recent stop was in the midst of a disappointing December for the Hurricanes. Justin Williams tallied a power-play goal to tie the game at one in the in the second period, but the Leafs answered just over a minute later and stretched their lead in the third period in a 4-1 win on Dec. 11.
The Maple Leafs clinched a playoff berth with a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders on Monday night. Former Islander John Tavares scored his 46th goal of the season early in the third period, and that held up as the game-winner. Toronto, who has three games remaining in the regular season, will square off with the Boston Bruins in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Want It
Three games remain in the 2018-19 regular season. If the Canes take care of their own business, they'll earn a coveted berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Want it. Leave it all on the ice.
2. Attack Early
The Maple Leafs clinched a playoff spot with a win in New York last night. Take advantage of having fresh legs against a potentially tired and emotionally disengaged team.
3. Next Man Up
With de Haan sidelined with an upper-body injury, Fleury draws back into the lineup. He's no stranger to this situation. Next man up. Step up and fill the gap left behind.
WORTH A CLICK
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