Carolina needs all the points it can get to stay in playoff position. Toronto isn't far behind, but needs teams like Carolina to stumble.
The Hurricanes and Maple Leafs both look to boost their chances in the postseason hunt when they meet Tuesday in Toronto.
Carolina (38-29-8) has 84 points, tying it with the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The defending Stanley Cup champions have won three straight and five of their last seven, including Saturday's 6-4 home victory over San Jose.
The Hurricanes have seven games remaining, including two against Tampa Bay, which is in seventh place in the East with 86 points.
"You'd be stupid not to notice what was going on, but you've got to play to the best of your ability every game," said Ray Whitney, who had a goal against the Sharks. "We put ourselves in this position."
The Maple Leafs (36-29-10) are just two points behind Carolina in 11th place. They have won four of seven, including Saturday's 4-1 win over Buffalo to salvage a split of a home-and-home series.
Toronto, which bounced back after blowing a three-goal, third-period lead at the Sabres in a 5-4 loss a day earlier, extended its season-high home winning streak to five games.
"We could have caved," said Leafs goalie Andrew Raycroft, who stopped 19 shots. "We're proven throughout the whole year that we aren't going away. We've battled. We keep working. I think it says a lot about the personalities in here."
The Maple Leafs' seven remaining games include matchups with the sixth-place New York Rangers (87 points), the Islanders and the Canadiens.
"We got a chance and that's all that matters to us," said right wing Darcy Tucker, who had two goals on Saturday. "We just have to win our games."
Carlo Colaiacovo and Nik Antropov also scored for Toronto, which has scored on the power play in each of its last five games.
"We beat the top two teams (New Jersey and Buffalo) in our conference, we're winning at home and we're comfortable," Raycroft told Toronto's official Web site. "Now it comes down to beating the teams around us. Everybody else has got tough games too."
Andrew Ladd scored two goals Saturday for the Hurricanes, who have outscored their opponents 17-9 during their three-game winning streak.
Cam Ward made 20 saves in his first start since March 11. Ward, the playoff MVP last season, relieved John Grahame in Thursday's 4-3 win over Washington after sitting out three games due to a laceration on his leg.
Carolina has dropped two of three meetings in the season series against the Maple Leafs, but its only victory came at Toronto, 4-1 on Jan. 9.
"We need to win all of them," said Ladd, who has not registered a point against the Leafs this season. "A win's a win at this point of the season, and we'll take all we can get."