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Game Day Preview

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (18-28-7-6) at Toronto Maple Leafs (32-21-4-1).

TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The surging Toronto Maple Leafs look for their eighth win in nine games as they host the struggling Carolina Hurricanes.

Toronto lost three straight, and five of eight, before its current run -- which began with a 3-2 win at Carolina on Jan. 29.

The Maple Leafs are coming off a 2-1 win against the Northeast-leading Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Ed Belfour made 31 saves, and Jonas Hoglund scored the go-ahead goal with 44 seconds remaining for Toronto.

"We've been getting scoring from everybody," said Hoglund, one of six Maple Leafs players with 10 or more goals. "We're going to need that down the stretch. We just can't depend on the top three guys. We need contributions from everybody." Belfour has allowed just 12 goals while winning six of his last seven games.

The Hurricanes will be looking for their first three-game unbeaten streak since going 2-0-1 from Dec. 18-22. Carolina, 3-15-2-3 since then, are on just their second two-game unbeaten string during the stretch.

After a 3-1 win against Southeast-leading Washington on Friday, the Hurricanes emerged with a 2-2 tie at Philadelphia on Saturday.

Jeff O'Neill and Sean Hill scored for Carolina, and Kevin Weekes stopped 42 shots against the Flyers -- including two solid saves in overtime -- after the Hurricanes blew a 2-0 lead in the third period.

Carolina, mired in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, has four points in its last three games (1-0-1-1), and three in its last 10 road games (0-7-1-2).

The defending conference champions are in danger of becoming the first team since the Washington Capitals in 1999 to miss the playoffs after reaching the Stanley Cup finals.

"We all try to be the Bad News Bears every night," O'Neill said. "We just go out and surprise people. Some teams take us lightly due to our last two months of play."

STANDINGS: Hurricanes - 49 points, 4th place, 17 PB, Southeast Division. Maple Leafs - 69 points, 2nd place, 13 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - O'Neill, 22 goals and 45 points; O'Neill and Rod Brind'Amour, 23 assists; Sean Hill, 113 PIM. Maple Leafs - Mats Sundin, 27 goals; Alexander Mogilny, 35 assists and 57 points; Tie Domi, 117 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 16): Hurricanes - Power play: 15.2 percent (47 for 310), 20th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.9 percent (245 for 299), 24th. Maple Leafs - Power play: 17.2 percent (45 for 262), 14th. Penalty killing: 87.8 percent (259 for 295), 1st.

GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Weekes (11-17-5, 2 SO, 2.47 GAA); Patrick DesRocher (0-3-0, 3.77). Maple Leafs - Belfour (27-15-3, 6, 2.09); Trevor Kidd (4-6-1, 0, 3.29).

SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 29; Maple Leafs, 3-2. At Raleigh, N.C., Sundin had two power-play goals as the Maple Leafs snapped their scoring drought and a three-game losing streak. Mogilny also had a goal for Toronto, while Jan Hlavac and Ron Francis scored for Carolina.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 8-17-2-3 on the road; Maple Leafs - 18-10-2-0 at home.
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