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Gameday: Hurricanes at Maple Leafs

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

TORONTO - Back in Canada already!

This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information you need to know for tonight's game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs. Make a regular stop throughout the day, as we update this hub with notes, photos and more as puck drop draws near.

The Hurricanes will not hold a morning skate today, but, we'll still have plenty of gameday content to pass along right here.

Last updated: 2:10 p.m.

2:10 p.m.

TV's Mike Maniscalco sets the table for tonight's match-up north of the border with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.

1. Bury Good Chances

The Hurricanes have had opportunities to score more goals than they have put on the board this year. When the opportunities are there tonight, the Canes have to find the net, not the post or fanning on a shot. The chances will be there, and putting the grade-A chances in the back of the net is a must against Toronto.

2. Back Them Up

The Hurricanes need to use their speed to back up the Maple Leafs' defensemen. That means smart transition passes that allow the forwards to build speed through the neutral zone. That will back off the Toronto defense and open up the ice for scoring chances.

3. Win the Boards

The ability to control entry into the offensive zone starts with winning board battles. Chip the puck out when it's in the defensive end and keep it in the offensive zone against a Leafs team that is good at controlling the puck.

11:45 a.m.

Based on Wednesday's practice and the comments head coach Bill Peters made afterward, we don't expect the Canes' lineup to deviate from Tuesday night, at least not at the outset of tonight's game.


Fleury-van Riemsdyk


We'll provide updates from warm-ups if any of these combinations change. 

12:00 a.m.

Just a week after leaving The Great White North, the Carolina Hurricanes have returned to Canada to take on the upstart Toronto Maple Leafs.

Behind only the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Leafs are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference with a 7-2-0 record and 14 points. They come into tonight's match, the second of three straight at home, winners of four of their last five games.

Thursday's tilt marks the front half of the first of 18 back-to-back sets the Hurricanes will play in the 2017-18 regular season, their most since 2013-14. The Canes plan to ice the same lineup in Toronto as they did on Tuesday versus Tampa Bay, but the back-to-back scenario could alter things on Friday against St. Louis at PNC Arena.

"With a back-to-back with travel, you'd like to get everybody in and go from there," head coach Bill Peters said on Wednesday. "There's no guarantee, but I would assume everyone will play at some point in the next two."

The Canes returned home from a four-game road trip and fell 5-1 to Tampa Bay on Tuesday, a game in which the final score wasn't exactly indicative of entire 60 minutes. Down 2-0 heading into the third period, the Hurricanes chopped the Lighting's lead in half with Jaccob Slavin's second goal of the season.

"It's a lot easier to play when you get on the board early or you get the first goal at any point in the game," Peters said. "It feels like when you don't score early you're chasing the game. It's two different mindsets, especially for younger players."

The Bolts then scored two empty-net goals and added a garbage time goal in the waning seconds of the game. The difference? Specialty teams.

"We were 0-for-4 and they were 1-for-1," Peters said. "It was late in the first. You get through that kill, and it's deep in the kill, probably only five seconds left and we have the puck. We had a chance to get that out. If you get through that penalty kill and you enter the second period 0-0, you're probably feeling OK about yourself."

The Hurricanes are hoping to spark some of their offensive talent. Sebastian Aho has yet to score, though he nearly did on the team's final power play on Tuesday, sending a shot right off the inside of the goal post. Victor Rask hasn't appeared on the scoresheet since Opening Night.

"You've got to make sure they're getting ice time, opportunities and looks. Then it's up to them to make sure they're executing properly and doing the right things in order to score," Peters said. "We've got to make sure we're hard and heavy at the net. There are no secrets how you have to score in the National Hockey League, and they're well aware of that."

CANESPR NOTES: The Canes have earned at least a point in seven of their last 10 trips to Toronto (6-3-1). … The Canes played 16 back-to-back sets in 2016-17 and were 15-10-7 in those games. The team posted a 7-4-5 record in the front halves and an 8-6-2 mark in the back halves.




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