TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs hope to rediscover their offense Monday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at Air Canada Centre.
The Maple Leafs (22-21-3) are returning from a four-game road trip during which they lost all four and managed to score one goal. Toronto was shut out 3-0 by the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
"Our mindset is that we want to first and foremost have a good start at home," Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. "Coming off a road trip we want to work on our start and dictate the pace of the game, playing a fast brand of hockey. We want to get back to the way we are capable of playing and build on some of the things that we were happy about, which is being a lot better in the defensive zone and not giving up as many chances."
The Maple Leafs are 1-5-0 since Peter Horachek took over as interim coach from Randy Carlyle. Horachek's mandate has been to cut down on goals and shots against and in doing so, the Maple Leafs big guns have had trouble finding the net.
Right wing Phil Kessel, who is 14th in NHL scoring with 19 goals and 43 points in 46 games, has one goal and two points in his past six games and is pointless in seven of his past eight. Left wing James van Riemsdyk has a goal and three points since Horachek took over and had no points in five of his past six games, while center Tyler Bozak has a goal and two points in six games and has been held off the score sheet in eight of his past nine.
"We have to continue to shoot the puck," van Riemsdyk said. "We have to continue to go to the net where we are getting lots of chances and just bear down when we get the chances. We are scoring well below our average right now, so you would have to believe it will even itself out at some point."
The Hurricanes (15-25-5) are coming off a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and are 5-2-1 in January. Much of their recent success has to do with getting center Jordan Staal back from injury, but Carolina's penalty-killing has also been superb. The Hurricanes have not allowed a power-play goal in 16 games. Staal has a goal and four points in nine games.
"We have definitely started to get on a roll in terms of having success and our coach wants to make sure we don't get complacent with that," forward Jay McClement said.
McClement played for the Maple Leafs last season and even though his former club is struggling on offense, he knows Carolina cannot take Toronto lightly.
"I think everybody knows that is a dangerous lineup and those are dangerous players and at any point they can break out," McClement said. "You have to be aware of them at all times no matter what has gone on for them in the last little while. That's probably even more motivation for them, so we have to make sure we take care of the puck. They are quick in transition and that is when they get most of their chances, so we have to be aware of them at all times."
Carolina captain Eric Staal said being healthy has certainly helped the Hurricanes cause.
"You never want to use injuries as an excuse, but we had a tough time getting healthy at the beginning of the year," Staal said. "You get in a hole and it's hard to get out. Now we are starting to feel confident in our roles and we're starting to see some better play and some offense. We fought hard and competed, but when you are missing players you find yourself on the wrong side of a lot of 2-1 games."
Here are the projected lineups:
Eric Staal – Jordan Staal – Jiri Tlusty
Jeff Skinner – Riley Nash – Elias Lindholm
Nathan Gerbe – Victor Rask – Chris Terry
Brad Malone – Jay McClement – Patrick Dwyer
Andrej Sekera – Justin Faulk
Tim Gleason – Ryan Murphy
Ron Hainsey – Brett Bellemore
Scratched: Alexander Semin, Andrej Nestrasil, John-Michael Liles
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Daniel Winnik – Nazem Kadri – Mike Santorelli
Richard Panik – Trevor Smith – David Clarkson
Matt Frattin – Sam Carrick – David Booth
Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson
Morgan Rielly – Roman Polak
Jake Gardiner – Korbinian Holzer
Injured: Joffrey Lupul (lower body), Peter Holland (upper body), Leo Komarov (upper body), Stephane Robidas (upper body)
Status report: The Hurricanes did not practice Sunday and are expected to dress the same players using the same line combinations that finished the game Saturday against Ottawa. … The Maple Leafs recalled right wing Matt Frattin from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League on Monday after he was reassigned Sunday. … Holland and Lupul skated before the rest of the players took part in the morning skate. … Komarov took the morning skate but will not play.
Who's hot: Faulk and Gerbe each had a goal and an assist against Ottawa.