It’s a rare Sunday night game for the Toronto Maple Leafs as they host the Carolina Hurricanes at the Air Canada Centre. For the first time all season, they didn’t play during Hockey Night In Canada last night, having the night off after beating the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout Friday.
Both teams will be motivated to bust out of their slumps tonight. The Hurricanes have won only once in their last seven games, while the Leafs have one regulation win since November 19. The ‘Canes are bad, but the Leafs always seem to have trouble with them. Carolina has won five of the last seven meetings between the two teams, including a 3-2 win over the Leafs on October 17, thanks to this goal by Hainsey:
Bernier, the victim of that strange goal, will get his third straight start tonight. He looked to be hurt on a Steve Ott collision when he skated out of his crease to play the puck on Friday, but he finished the rest of the game. The ‘Canes will counter with Ward, who has struggled with a .901 save percentage in 17 games and has all but lost his starting job to Peters.
In other lineup news, Bozak will play for the first time since December 3 as he returns from an oblique injury. He’s likely to get his top-line centre spot back, and Holland could be dropped to the fourth line if practice lines are any indication. Jerred Smithson was sent back down to the Marlies.
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Let’s win a game in regulation tonight, Leafs!