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The Official Site of the Carolina Hurricanes

Gameday: Maple Leafs vs. Hurricanes

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

Live from Raleigh, it's Saturday night!

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

Expect to see the first updates here right around 10:30 a.m., when the Hurricanes take the ice at PNC Arena for their morning skate.

Last updated: 6:25 p.m.


BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA TOOLS TO VICTORY
6:25 p.m.

Mike Maniscalco presents tonight's Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.

Video: Tools to Victory: TOR vs. CAR


IN THE ROOM
3:15 p.m.

Forward Jay McClement and defenseman Noah Hanifin chatted with our cameras after the team's morning skate.

Video: Jay McClement: "Be aware"

Video: Noah Hanifin: "Have a tight gap"


PREGAME: PETERS
12:15 p.m.

Head coach Bill Peters met with the larger-than-usual media contingent (Hello, Toronto!) at PNC Arena after the morning skate. Here are some highlights.

On the 4-3 win over New York and how it relates to tonight: "We were in the box a lot and didn't get in the flow of the game. … Once it was a 5-on-5 game, we got guys involved and were much better. We want to play a 5-on-5 game and not put [Toronto's] power play on the ice unless we absolutely have to."

On Sebastian Aho: "We knew he was good. I got to see him at the World Championship, very good there, and then at the World Cup. I thought he played very well there. Rare that a player, no different than Auston Matthews, plays in the World Cup before they play in the National Hockey League. That speaks to their talent and hockey sense to be on those types of teams. He can do it all. His role is going to expand coming down the stretch. We used him on the penalty kill against the Rangers for the first time, and we'll do that again here tonight moving forward. He's just a real good player, a competitive player and smart."

On the team's penalty kill after the trade deadline: "The numbers speak for themselves. The biggest impact was Ron Hainsey. He was our leader in time on ice on the back-end on the PK. We've felt that. We've slid down the standings. We were first at the time but not there anymore. We have the ability to rebound."

On Cam Ward, who made 40 saves in Thursday's win and gets the start tonight: "I thought he was real good. All their goals were on the power play, and I didn't think he had much of a chance on a couple of them. He made some big saves when we needed them. He's been steady."

On Phil Di Giuseppe and Brock McGinn, who remain sidelined with upper-body injuries: "They're tough injuries to judge. Maybe after the Islanders set. … Hopefully after that, but we'll have to just - day-to-day. Those are tough injuries to come back from. One guy's not shooting the puck, and the other guy's not feeling good, so hopefully it changes quick."

On squaring off behind the bench against Mike Babcock: "Competitive guy. You want to have bragging rights. This is the rubber match. … To me, whoever wins this has bragging rights all summer long, so it better be the guy standing in front of you."

On catching up with Babcock on Friday night: "I barbequed. I hope we play better than I barbequed."

Video: Bill Peters: "Play five on five"


CANES LINES: MORNING SKATE
10:35 a.m.

A couple of minor tweaks to the Hurricanes' lineup that skated in a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers on Thursday night. Here's what you can expect to see tonight.

Aho-Staal-Teravainen
Skinner-Rask-Lindholm
Zykov-Ryan-Stempniak
Nordstrom-McClement-Brown

Slavin-Faulk
Hanifin-Pesce
Dahlbeck-Murphy

Ward
Lack

Phil Di Giuseppe and Brock McGinn, both of whom are nursing upper-body injuries, participated in the morning skate in yellow, no-contact sweaters. Matt Tennyson will be the healthy extra on defense. More from inside the room in just a bit!

Tweet from @NHLCanes: Happy Saturday! #Canes morning skate is underway at PNC Arena. #TORvsCAR pic.twitter.com/XZgKxPDIzk


CANES HOST LEAFS IN SEASON SERIES RUBBER MATCH
6:00 a.m.

When the Carolina Hurricanes take the ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, they'll be looking to string together consecutive wins for the first time in over a month.

The last time the Canes strung together a winning streak was the first week of February, when the team rattled off three straight after returning from the All-Star break. Since then, the Canes have posted a disappointing 3-7-3 record.

Perhaps Thursday night's 4-3 win over the New York Rangers, a team squarely in playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference, can help jump start the Canes.

"It's a good group in that room. They're good people and they care," head coach Bill Peters said. "It has been a tough stretch here … and tonight we found a way."

Thursday's game against the Rangers was one that was heavily reliant on special teams. New York scored all three of its goals on the power play, as the Hurricanes took an uncharacteristic six penalties and allowed an uncharacteristic trio of goals on the man advantage, while Sebastian Aho tallied twice in the third period on the power play to power the Hurricanes to victory.

"He was good right out of the gate. You're seeing a quiet confidence. He's a very quiet kid and a very humble kid. Obviously kudos to his family for his upbringing to be that mature at his age in the league," Cam Ward said of his 19-year-old rookie teammate, who now has 20 goals on the season. "He's a pro already. He takes care of himself, and he's probably in the gym working out right now, doing the little things that make a difference in this league. He's probably finding some chemistry with some players and teammates. He's a valuable player for our team and will be for years to come."

Additionally, Valentin Zykov scored his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot in his NHL debut, as he out-muscled Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal to locate a puck in the slot and slide it past Antti Raanta.

"He's that guy. He's a big, physical guy. We need more guys like that to be able to crash the net and make it difficult on our opposing goaltenders," said Ward, who contributed 40 saves in the win. "It's a memory that he'll always remember, and it was great that we were able to win and also give him the ax and belt as a compliment to him."

While the Rangers have somewhat cemented their playoff status - they're knocking on the door of third place in the Metropolitan Division, but hold a confident 13-point margin over the second wild card spot - the Maple Leafs are clawing game-by-game to crack a postseason berth. At 30-22-14 with 74 points, Toronto sits just a point back of the New York Islanders in the race for the second wild card and two points back of the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division.

Tonight marks the third and final meeting of the season between the Canes and Leafs, with each team scoring a road win in the first two contests. The Maple Leafs were 4-0 victors in Raleigh on Feb. 19.

CANESPR NOTES: The Hurricanes have won four of the last five season series against the Maple Leafs, dating back to the 2011-12 season. … Aho's 20 goals ties Shane Willis for second all-time among Hurricanes rookie goal scorers. Jeff Skinner tallied 31 in 2010-11.


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