Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Carolina Hurricanes - 12/29/13
Carolina Hurricanes (14-15-9) at Toronto Maple Leafs (19-16-5)
NHL Hockey: Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm (Air Canada Centre)
The Line: Toronto Maple Leafs -147 / Carolina Hurricanes +134 --- Over/Under: 5.5 See the Latest Odds
After a great start to the year things have been much slower of late for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The month of December hasn't been overly kind to the hockey club and they currently find themselves in fifth place in a challenging Atlantic Division. Toronto started things out with a win after the holiday break on Friday night but it didnt come easy against the Buffalo Sabres. Two goals just 51 seconds apart for the Sabres lifted them to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. To their credit the Maple Leafs came out strong and dominated the second period, outshooting Buffalo 17-5 in the period and scoring three straight goals to take the lead. Jake Gardiner, Peter Holland, and Phls Kessel all scored for the Maple Leafs but they were unable to build on their lead and it ultimately cost them in the third. Buffalo would tie the game with under a minute to play in regulation and send the two teams into overtime. After a scoreless extra frame it was Joffrey Lupul scoring the only goal of the shootout to lift the Maple Leafs to a 4-3 win. Jonathan Bernier was a little shaky in this one but he's played very well for this team that is still using a pretty standard two goalie system at this point. No matter the starting goaltending in this one the Maple Leafs are bound to have their hands full with a Carolina team that really plays well when they head to Toronto.
The Hurricanes have been an utter disaster this month, losing seven of their last eight games since starting December with wins in three of their first four games. Cam Ward hasn't been his old self and Justin Peters isn't cut out to be a No. 1 goaltender so the Hurricanes have found themselves right back in the same position they were in last year after Ward went down. If the Hurricanes don't find a way to get solid goaltending they won't have any chance to rally for a post season spot, even in a miserable division. In four consecutive losses the Hurricanes have allowed 15 goals and that's not good enough unless you're putting in five yourself each and every night. Carolina has played extremely well in Toronto, going 8-3 their last 11 meetings with the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. This team needs a spark and maybe playing on the road in a build they're comortable in is exactly what they need right now.
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport