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Desperate Leafs head to Carolina

by Brian Compton
MAPLE LEAFS (30-30-10) at HURRICANES (32-28-10)

TV: TSN, Fox Sports-Carolina.

Last 10: Toronto 4-3-3; Carolina 4-4-2.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. Carolina won the first two matchups before Toronto earned a 3-0 victory on Feb. 3 at the Air Canada Centre.

Big Story: It might be do-or-die for the Maple Leafs, who enter Wednesday's action fourth points behind the ninth-place Hurricanes and six from the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. If the Leafs are to remain in the hunt, they'll have to do so without Colby Armstrong, who broke his foot while blocking a shot during Monday's 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay.

With Armstrong out of the lineup, the Leafs recalled Nazem Kadri from their AHL squad on Tuesday afternoon.

"All you have to do is look at our record with Colby in the lineup (25-19-6 and 13-3-2 when he gets a point)," Wilson said. "It's been, unfortunately, one of those years for him, breaking things, a mysterious eye ailment, stuff like that. There's not much we can do now. There are other people who have to fill in for him."

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs: One of the main reasons why Toronto even has a chance to still qualify for a playoff spot is due to the play of goalie James Reimer, but the rookie struggled on Monday night. Reimer, who was making his 12th consecutive start, allowed five goals on 29 shots.

Was it due to fatigue? Perhaps, but Reimer still shouldered the blame after the loss to the Lightning.

"I could probably use (being tired) as an excuse,'' Reimer said "Even if that was the case, I'm a professional athlete and you have to find ways to stay focused and keep your head in the game and keep your body at a competitive level.''

Hurricanes: Desperately needing a regulation win against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, Carolina received a remarkable performance from goaltender Cam Ward in a 1-0 victory at HSBC Arena. Ward stopped all 40 shots he faced -- including 22 in the first period -- to help the 'Canes snap an 0-3-1 skid.

"We feel we have arguably the best goaltender in the world," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. "For a one-goal hockey game, there was lots going on."

Who's Hot: Leafs winger Nikolai Kulemin has points in three of his last four games and ranks third on the club with 26 goals.

Injury Report: Besides Armstrong, the Maple Leafs will also be without Colton Orr (upper body). … Carolina defenseman Jamie McBain is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Stat Pack: Toronto is 1-for-32 on the power play in its last eight games, while Carolina has converted only twice in its last 54 opportunities -- a span of 14 contests. The Hurricanes have gone seven straight games without scoring three goals in regulation.

Puck Drop: "We're a young team and sometimes the guys get down quickly. You could even see it during the game (Monday). That fourth goal really let all the air out of the balloon. But we'll bounce back. Sometimes you need 24 hours to get over that and move on to the next game." -- Toronto coach Ron Wilson

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