Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Mike Komisarek will finally receive an opportunity to play against his former team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, on Sunday at Air Canada Centre.
Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller kept Komisarek out of the lineup Oct. 17 in Toronto, the first game between the teams this season, telling reporters Sunday he didn't think it was the ideal time to play him there so soon.
"We just said, 'Hey, we want to go step by step with you this year and regain your confidence and grow as a player,'" Muller said. "He's been a great pro and handled all the sitting out and healthy scratches well."
Komisarek spent parts of the past four seasons with the Maple Leafs and played four games last season. The Maple Leafs used a compliance buyout on Komisarek on July 2, making him an unrestricted free agent. Three days later, he agreed to a one-year, $700,000 contract with Carolina.
Komisarek did not play in 15 of the Hurricanes' first 18 games, but is in the lineup at what he said he believes is an ideal time.
"In the back of your mind, you look at the schedule and you always want to get into that game against your former team, and contribute and have a good game and get two points out of it," Komisarek told the News & Observer. "I was a little bummed out last game but I’m looking forward to tonight.
"The older you get in this League, you learn you have something to prove every night. You've got to bring it, you've got to prove it. Tonight is definitely one of those nights."
Cam Ward, who has played once since Dec. 10, gets the start in goal for Carolina, which has lost four straight games and seven of eight.
Toronto is coming off a 4-3 shootout win Friday against the Buffalo Sabres. The Maple Leafs have lost five of the past six games against the Hurricanes, including eight of the past 11 in Toronto.
Here are projected lineups:
Jeff Skinner - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Nathan Gerbe - Jordan Staal - Alexander Semin
Drayson Bowman - Riley Nash - Patrick Dwyer
Zach Boychuk - Manny Malhotra - Radek Dvorak
Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk
Ron Hainsey - Brett Bellemore
Mike Komisarek - Tim Gleason
Scratched: Kevin Westgarth, Ryan Murphy
Injured: Jiri Tlusty (appendectomy), Jay Harrison (concussion), Anton Khudobin (lower body)
James van Riemsdyk - Nazem Kadri - Phil Kessel
Mason Raymond - Peter Holland - Joffrey Lupul
Nikolai Kulemin - Jay McClement - David Clarkson
Jerry D'Amigo - Jerred Smithson - Colton Orr
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson
Morgan Rielly - Paul Ranger
Scratched: John-Michael Liles, Mark Fraser, Frazer McLaren
Injured: Tyler Bozak (oblique), Dave Bolland (ankle), Trevor Smith (broken arm)