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Preview: Maple Leafs vs. Hurricanes

Canes return home to host Toronto

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

The Carolina Hurricanes return home from a weeklong trek through California to host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Hurricanes capped off their three-game trip with a 4-1 win in Anaheim against a Ducks team that had one five games in a row.

"We had a lot of guys step up," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said after practice on Monday. "We had good contributions up and down the lineup and played hard."

Two Crucial Points

Heading into Friday's road trip finale in Anaheim, the Canes were winless in their previous three games and had scored just two goals in that stretch.

The 4-1 victory - against a team that had won five straight, no less - was critical for team morale before heading back east.

"It was a great effort, all the way up and down the lineup," Brind'Amour said after the game. "We had a lot of guys banged up, a lot of guys who just muscled it out. We deserved that win."

Clark Bishop netted his first NHL goal on the strangest of plays to kickstart the Canes' offense, which came alive with three goals in the third period.

"We needed a goal like that. We were struggling to score goals. You've got to get some ugly ones," Brind'Amour said. "That epitomized about as ugly as you can get, but he did a lot of good things. To get to that point, he had to carry it all the way from our end down and beat a defenseman wide."

Ferland Returns

Micheal Ferland is expected to return to the Canes' lineup after missing the last four games with a concussion. The 26-year-old forward didn't travel with the Canes out west, but returned to practice on Monday and was activated from injured reserve.

Video: Ferland: "I wasn't feeling one-hundred percent"

"That should help us. He's probably going to be a tad rusty, but just having him in the lineup is going to be huge," Brind'Amour said. "You could tell not having him in there was a big impact on us, scoring goals and just that element he brings was definitely missing."

PROJECTED LINEUP

Ferland leads the team in goals (11) and power-play goals (5).

The Last Meeting

Victor Rask made his 2018-19 season debut the last time these two teams got together on Nov. 21 in Raleigh, as the Canes handed the Maple Leafs - then the top team in the Eastern Conference - a 5-2 defeat. Trevor van Riemsdyk and Justin Williams each tallied goals in a span of just 22 seconds in the first period to put the Canes ahead 2-0, and Curtis McElhinney made 30 saves on 32 shots against his former team.

The Opposition

After rattling off five straight wins, the Maple Leafs - now with William Nylander on their roster - have gone winless in their last two games and have surrendered a combined 11 goals. John Tavares boasts a team-high 18 goals, while Mitch Marner's 40 points (and 34 assists) pace the squad.

"They've got a great team," Brind'Amour said. "They're fully manned. It's a dangerous team. We know that."


ADVANCE AUTO PARTS KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Everyone on Board

The Hurricanes had 11 different players record a point in their 5-2 win over Toronto two weeks ago. They're going to need similar contributions up and down the lineup to be successful tonight.

2. Kill It

The Hurricanes' penalty kill was a perfect 5-for-5 in Anaheim and is 31-for-33 (94 percent) over the last 13 games. The Leafs' power play ranks fifth in the league, a tall task for the Canes' improved PK.

3. Build and Grow

The Canes' win in Anaheim on Friday was huge from a momentum standpoint. Now, with six of seven games prior to Christmas being played at home, the Canes have a chance to string a streak together and gain some ground in the standings before the holiday break.


AT THE RINK

The first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive this color-changing cup courtesy of KIOTI. It's neat!

Tweet from @NHLCanes: The first 5,000 fans in attendance tonight will receive this magical color-changing cup, presented by @KIOTITractor & #AssistForHunger pic.twitter.com/TsK6jOJ9R7

The annual Toy Drive began yesterday and runs through Sunday, Dec. 16. Fans who donate one new, unopened toy will receive a $10 coupon to Buffalo Brothers and will be entered to win a gameday experience or autographed prize. More details can be found here.

Finally, returning this month is the 50/50 Raffle, which will raise funds for children's health and educational needs throughout North Carolina and give fans the chance to walk away with a cash prize. Ticket prices and all the raffle details can be found here.


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