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Gameday Preview: Leafs vs. Hurricanes

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (18-31-9-6) at Toronto Maple Leafs (36-23-4-1).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

Two points shy of 1,000, Toronto captain Mats Sundin and the rest of the Maple Leafs will try to atone for a poor performance when the last-place Carolina Hurricanes visit Air Canada Centre.

Sundin, Gary Roberts and Alexander Mogilny -- Toronto's top line -- were held to a goal and an assist, and were a dismal minus-13 in a 7-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.

Sundin and Roberts were both minus-5 and Mogilny finished at minus-3.

Alex Mogilny thinks the Detroit loss wasn't the end of the world.
Graig Abel Photography
"Our line had a nightmare night," Sundin said. "We certainly made all the mistakes we possibly could." Sundin failed to pick up a point for the first time in seven games and remains two shy of becoming the 66th player in NHL history with 1,000. New Jersey's Joe Nieuwendyk became the 65th to reach the plateau Sunday in a 4-3 win at Pittburgh.

Mogilny has three goals and nine assists during a seven-game point streak while Roberts has five goals and eight points in seven games.

Thursday's loss was the second in three games for Toronto following a five-game win streak.

Sitting 11 points behind Northeast Division-leading Ottawa, the Leafs are battling Philadelphia for fourth place in the Eastern Conference and home ice in the first round of the playoffs.

Ed Belfour is another of the Leafs that would like to atone for a bad game.

The Toronto allowed seven goals on 38 shots Thursday and has yielded 14 goals in his past three starts.

Carolina has been reduced to the role of spoiler, but hasn't done a very good job of late.

A 4-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday left the defending conference champions winless in their last six (0-3-3) games, and with a 1-6-3-1 record for February.

To make matters worse for struggling Carolina, leading scorer Jeff O'Neill took a high stick to the eye from Coyotes defenseman Teppo Numminen in the first period and didn't return.

Arturs Irbe made 15 saves in his first start since being recalled from the minors. Irbe has lost eight of his last nine starts.

STANDINGS (through Feb. 27):
Hurricanes - 51 points, 4th place (tied), 19 PB, Southeast Division.
Maple Leafs - 77 points, 2nd place, 11 PB, Northeast Division.

Hurricanes - O'Neill, 24 goals and 48 points; O'Neill and Ron Francis, 24 assists; Sean Hill, 125 PIM.
Maple Leafs - Sundin, 30 goals; Mogilny, 43 assists and 68 points; Tie Domi, 119 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 27):
Hurricanes - Power play: 15.1 percent (50 for 331), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.9 percent (262 for 320), 23rd.
Maple Leafs - Power play: 17.4 percent (50 for 288), 14th. Penalty killing: 87.5 percent (287 for 328), 2nd.

Hurricanes - Kevin Weekes (11-19-7, 2 SO, 2.49 GAA); Irbe (7-18-2, 3.10).
Maple Leafs - Belfour (30-17-3, 6 SO, 2.26 GAA); Trevor Kidd (5-6-1, 3.27).

SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 18; Maple Leafs, 4-3. At Toronto, Darcy Tucker scored with 7:39 remaining as the Leafs rallied for their eighth win in nine games.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 8-19-2-3 on the road; Maple Leafs - 20-11-2-0 at home.
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