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Leafs aim to bounce back against Hurricanes

by Davis Harper

HURRICANES (3-4-0) at MAPLE LEAFS (4-4-0)


Season series: This is the first of three season meetings. Carolina took three of four from the Maple Leafs in 2011-12.

Big story: Two teams figuring to be on the cusp of playoff contention in this shortened campaign will look to secure a valuable two points Monday in Toronto. The Leafs had won two straight before falling 1-0 against Boston on Saturday, while the Hurricanes fell to the Flyers, 5-3, in their most recent outing.

Team scope:

Hurricanes: On Friday, goalie Dan Ellis recorded his first shutout in two years in a 33-save effort against Ottawa. Ellis again got the start Saturday against the Flyers, with a much different final result. Philadelphia chased Ellis with four goals on 12 shots in a little over 20 minutes. His replacement, Cam Ward, saved 11 of 12 shots but the damage was done, as the Flyers cruised to a 5-3 win. Where the Flyers took advantage on the man-advantage, scoring on all three opportunities, the ‘Canes were unable to capitalize on five of six situations.

"Our power play just wasn't good enough, I think,” Eric Staal told "We need to execute a little bit better. There were some plays we could have had but we just didn't make it happen.

"Both areas, penalty kill and power play, cost us the game. I thought we were the better team overall. We had 40-plus shots, limited them to a lot less. Special teams win you games in this League and it did for them tonight."

Maple Leafs: Toronto entered the Air Canada Centre on Saturday coming off wins against Buffalo and Washington. The Leafs hoped to close the gap between themselves and the Eastern-leading Bruins but if anything, the ensuing contest served to widen it. Boston dominated much of the game, forcing turnovers with a heavy fore-check and pinning the Leafs in their own zone for long stretches. The game finished 1-0 thanks only to some great saves from James Reimer, while offensively Toronto managed just 21 shots.

"They started to grind us,” Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. “That's the way they play and they're a good team. They did what they had to do to be effective to play a road game and we didn't do enough of the things that we're capable of to establish a strong home game in the 60 minutes."

Who’s hot: While big-summer signing Jordan Staal has yet to record a goal for Carolina, his brother Eric is off to a hot start. The ‘Canes captain scored the lone goal against Ottawa and contributed a highlight-reel effort Saturday to bring his season total to six – good for fourth in the League.

Injury report: For Carolina, Tuomo Ruutu is on injured reserve with a hip injury. … Mike Brown (shoulder) and Clarke MacArthur (finger) are day-to-day for the Leafs, while Joffrey Lupul is out indefinitely with an arm injury.

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