Refocused Leafs ready for Hurricanes

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Refocused Leafs ready for Hurricanes

The last time the Carolina Hurricanes visited the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was a wild game.

The Maple Leafs outlasted the Hurricanes 8-6 on Dec. 23 in the first meeting of the teams this season.

The Leafs will have the momentum going into the game Saturday night against the Hurricanes. After stumbling to two straight losses, the Maple Leafs defeated the visiting Penguins 4-0 Thursday to avenge a loss in Pittsburgh two days earlier.

The Hurricanes lost 5-2 to the visiting Rangers on Friday night as New York completed a sweep of the four-game season series.

“For whatever reason, they usually play well against us,” Hurricanes center and captain Jordan Staal said. “We have to find ways to get points right now, and whatever team we’re playing against, it’s got to be better. … I think our execution was a little off.”

Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said of the Rangers, “They were good. They were desperate, a little more than we were. That to me is the bigger issue. We needed to have a little more desperation early in the game to kind of set the tone, and we never did.”

The Hurricanes are 5-4-0 in the second game of back-to-back sets this season, and they will face a team that has renewed confidence.

“We didn’t like how the last little bit has gone,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “I was excited about the opportunity to get to work (Wednesday) and put in the work and respond.

“You’re playing against the same team, it has a playoff feel to it when you take a beatdown in the first game, you have a chance to regroup and make a plan and push your team, challenge the team, motivate your team. That’s the best part of this game. I was excited about it; I think our players were, too, and it showed tonight.”

Frederik Andersen made his third straight start in goal for Toronto and recorded 24 saves to earn his second shutout of the season. Backup goaltender Jack Campbell likely will get the start Saturday.

“I thought we just stuck with our game for the most part of the game,” Andersen said on Thursday. “We played a complete effort. That was a great response by everyone, I think, the way we want to be like.”

“I think the whole team showed a lot of emotion tonight, not just me in particular,” said Maple Leafs right winger Kasperi Kapanen, who had a goal and was involved in a fight. “You know, that’s the outcome when we play like that, we play with emotion and we stick to the structure and play the Maple Leaf way. That’s what happens, and it was a good game throughout.”

On a positive note for the Hurricanes on Friday, center Sebastian Aho scored a goal to extend his point streak to 11 games (11 goals, six assists), marking his longest point streak of the season and the second-longest of his career. It is the longest point streak by a Carolina player this season. Aho has 10 goals in nine games in February.

Hurricanes right winger Andrei Svechnikov posted an assist Friday to extend his point streak to nine games (five goals, six assists).

–Field Level Media

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