Hurricanes-Maple Leafs: Game Preview

Dino MoriAnalyst IJanuary 15, 2008

The Toronto Maple Leafs will attempt to climb back into the NHL playoff race when they play host to the Eric Staal and the Carolina Hurricanes at the Air Canada Centre tonight. 

The Leafs will look to end their five-game losing skid. 

Last Saturday, the club put forth a solid effort in San Jose, but ultimately fell 3-2 to the Sharks.

The game marked the homecoming of goalie Vesa Toskala, who was traded by the Sharks to the Leafs during a draft day deal. 

Toronto was shut out in Anaheim to begin their West Coast trip, then lost 5-2 to Los Angeles the next night, when designated backup goalie, Andrew Raycroft, allowed four first period goals.

Currently, Toronto is last in the Northeast Division with 40 points and 14th in the Eastern Conference.

The Carolina Hurricanes are first in the Southeast Division—two points ahead of the Atlanta Thrashers

The Hurricanes will welcome back a few bodies to their lineup including Ray Whitney, Carolina's leading scorer, forward Trevor Letowski, defensemen Wade Brookbank, and Glen Wesley who missed some action due to the flu.

Carolina are still reeling from a rash of injuries to key players.  Most notably, Justin Williams (knee), Matt Cullen (concussion), Scott Walker (knee), and Bret Hedican (knee).

The 'Canes are coming off a 5-4 loss to the Colorado Avalanche last Saturday—they blew a 4-2 third period lead. A lone bright spot in that game was recent call-up Keith Aucoin who had a goal and an assist in the loss.

Cam Ward gets the call for Carolina in goal.  He will be opposed by Vesa Toskala of the Leafs.