Maple Leafs-Hurricanes Preview
GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (32-16-9-3) at Carolina Hurricanes (18-27-11-2).
TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.
Though the Toronto Maple Leafs have played well this season despite a rash
of injuries, the one player they can't do without is goaltender Ed Belfour.
Toronto again will be missing its top goalie when it puts a six-game road
unbeaten streak on the line against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Belfour did not dress for the sixth time in Toronto's past seven games
Tuesday with a nagging back injury, and backup Trevor Kidd struggled again in a
5-2 loss to Boston.
Belfour, who hasn't played since last Thursday's 4-1 win over Columbus, did
not make the flight to Carolina. He went through a light skate Wednesday, his
first on-ice work since last Friday, but didn't face any shots.
"We don't want him at 90 percent, we want him at 100 percent," Toronto
coach Pat Quinn said. "He's willing to play in a lesser shape, but the point
is for him to get in top shape and then we'll talk about playing."
In Belfour's place, Kidd is 1-3-1 while allowing 22 goals. He gave up three
goals on three straight shots in the second period Tuesday. Mikael Tellqvist
was in net for an 8-4 victory at Pittsburgh on Monday.
"We have to look at ourselves, it's easy to blame somebody," Quinn said.
"Our team play hasn't been good enough. Our defensemen haven't done a good
job, either handling the puck or passing it."
Tuesday's loss dropped the Leafs into a first-place tie with Ottawa in the
Northeast Division while surging Boston pulled within one point of both teams.
Toronto, 5-0-1 in its last six road games, is tied with Boston for the most
road wins in the East with 17.
Also missing from the Leafs' lineup Tuesday were leading goal scorer Gary
Roberts and right wing Alexander Mogilny.
Roberts missed his second straight game with a pulled leg muscle while
Mogilny hasn't played since Nov. 22 following reconstructive surgery on his
left hip. Roberts, who went on injured reserve Wednesday, won't be back until
next week at the earliest while Mogilny could return Saturday against Montreal.
Carolina has virtually no shot at the postseason, sitting 13th in the East
with too much ground to make up on eighth-place Montreal.
The Hurricanes ended a six-game winless streak with a 3-1 victory over
visiting Florida on Monday.
"There's been a lot of games where we've come out and dominated the first
period and we'll walk away 1-0 down, 2-0 down," Carolina coach Peter
Laviolette said. "It was nice to get some rewards for the work."
In a surprise move, the Hurricanes recalled veteran goalie Arturs Irbe from
Lowell of the AHL on Tuesday. Irbe, the franchise leader in wins, games played
and shutouts, is expected to play in one of the team's next three games.
STANDINGS (through Feb. 17): Maple Leafs - 76 points, 1st place (tied),
Northeast Division. Hurricanes - 49 points, 4th place, 23 PB, Southeast
TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Roberts, 22 goals; Mats Sundin, 36 assists and
57 points; Tie Domi, 161 PIM. Hurricanes - Josef Vasicek, 15 goals; Justin
Williams, 22 assists and 31 points; Jesse Boulerice, 95 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 17): Maple Leafs - Power play: 19.6 percent (55
for 281), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (244 for 289), 16th.
Hurricanes - Power play: 11.7 percent (31 for 266), 29th. Penalty killing: 81.1
percent (202 for 249), 26th.
GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Kidd (5-4-2, 1 SO, 3.15 GAA); Tellqvist (3-0-2,
2.77). Hurricanes - Kevin Weekes (18-21-9, 6, 2.26); Irbe (no appearances).
SEASON SERIES: 1-1-0.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 27; Hurricanes, 2-0. At Toronto, Weekes made 32 saves for
his career-best sixth shutout and Erik Cole scored a short-handed goal to lead
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 17-7-7-1 on the road; Hurricanes -
11-12-7-1 at home.