TORONTO - The Carolina Hurricanes close out their 10th back-to-back set of the season with a Saturday night faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Canes are eyeing a bounce-back effort after being swept by the New York Rangers in their regular-season series in a 5-2 loss on Friday.
Right Back at It
After having what was probably their best performance of the season in Nashville, the Hurricanes did not have their best three nights later against the Rangers.
The Canes weren't bad - at least not for the first 30 minutes or so - but they could never quite find their game and were chasing the score more often than not.
"They were good," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "They were desperate a little more than we were. That, to me, is the bigger issue. We needed to have a little more desperation early in the game to kind of set the tone, and we never did."
"We had to be more desperate. It wasn't there," Jordan Staal said. "That's frustrating this time of year."
The good news: The Canes get right back at it less than 24 hours after the final horn sounded in Raleigh, and they know what's at stake with just 22 games left in the regular season.
"We've got a big game tomorrow. Right back at it," Staal said. "It's got to be a better effort from everyone, including myself."
Despite the setback on the scoreboard, Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov, two driving forces of the Hurricanes' top line, hooked up on the power play to extend their respective point streaks.
Aho pounced on a loose puck in the crease, tapping in his career-best 35th goal of the season. He now has points in 11 straight games (11g, 6a), a game shy of his career-best stretch with which he opened the 2018-19 campaign.
Aho's 35 goals rank fourth overall in the NHL. The Finnish forward has netted 10 of those goals in just nine February games, leading all NHL skaters this month.
With the primary assist on Aho's goal - it was Svechnikov's shot that leaked through goaltender Igor Shesterkin - Svechnikov matched his career-best point streak of nine games (5g, 6a). The sophomore Russian ranks second on the team in goals (24) and assists (32) and is tied for second in points (56), all career-high marks.
The Last Meeting
Who could forget the last time the Hurricanes and Maple Leafs faced off? The coaching staff probably wants to. The Canes quickly fell into a 3-0 hole in the first 5:10 of the game but then rallied to score five straight goals and take a 5-3 lead into the second intermission. Toronto then scored five goals in the third period, including four unanswered and three in 59 seconds in a wild 8-6 final.
Video: CAR Recap: Haula, Necas' efforts not enough in loss
"That's probably the craziest game I've ever played professionally. It was up-and-down. We started really bad," said Martin Necas, who recorded a career-best four points (2g, 2a). "Then, in the second period, we dominated. The third period, I don't really know what happened."
The Maple Leafs faced the Penguins in a home-and-home set this week. The Pens took the first game in Pittsburgh on Tuesday before the Maple Leafs earned a 4-0 shutout win in Toronto on Thursday. Frederik Andersen made 24 saves, and Jake Muzzin recorded a goal and two assists in the win, which leapfrogged Toronto into third place in the Atlantic Division. Auston Matthews is tied for first in the league in goals (43) and leads the Leafs in points (73).
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