Toronto Maple Leafs vs Carolina Hurricanes: 7:00 p.m.
Watch on: Hockey Night in Canada
Opponent’s site: Canes Country

The Toronto Maple Leafs face the Carolina Hurricanes at home tonight, the first time the two teams have played each other since the Leafs’ phenomenally chaotic 8-6 win on December 23rd.

Was it the “ideal” way to win a hockey game? Absolutely not. Would I be mad about a repeat of a fourteen goal game? Well...

Coming off of their well-deserved win over the Penguins on Thursday, the Leafs will be looking to continue that momentum, and not just to lock up their playoff spot. If Thursday was an opportunity to prove that they could recover from the dismal showing that was their previous game against the Penguins, tonight is an opportunity for them to prove that that game wasn’t just a fluke.

The Maple Leafs have 20 games to secure a playoff spot

The February 20th game was literally everything that you want from a hockey game in general, and a Leafs game in particular. The defense was exceptionally strong, keeping the Penguins to only low danger chances for much of the game, while the offense was absolutely deadly.

By far my favourite part of the game though was the fact that the Leafs just didn’t quit. Even in the third, up three, then four, goals, they kept up the pressure and didn’t slip into the trap of score effects. From a team that is often accused of not putting in enough effort, it was a beautiful thing to see. Maybe all those quotes that they’ve been throwing around about team effort have finally sunk in, maybe they’ve all just finally recovered from the flu. Either way, if they can keep it up they’ll be dominating a lot more games throughout the final part of the season.

Over on the other end of the ice, the Carolina Hurricanes are also fighting for their playoff spot, currently sitting right in the middle of a very tight race for third place in the Metropolitan division, and are coming off a loss last night to the Rangers. So, motivated, but tired – a decent combo for the Leafs, less so for the Canes.

In terms of play, there’s a lot of similarities between the Leafs and Canes in terms of offense, which maybe helps explain the delightful tire fire of their last game against each other. Both teams are among the top of the league for xGF%, and not by fluke either.

It should be a fun one – let’s light them up!

Maple Leafs Lines
Based on last game

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
William Nylander - John Tavares - Denis Malgin
Pierre Engvall - Alexander Kerfoot -  Kasperi Kapanen
Kyle Clifford - Frederik Gauthier - Jason Spezza

Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin - Tyson Barrie
Travis Dermott - Martin Marincin

Frederik Andersen
Jack Campbell

Carolina Hurricanes Lines
Via the Daily Faceoff

Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Warren Foegele - Jordan Staal - Justin Williams
Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Martin Necas
Ryan Dzingel - Lucas Wallmark - Brock McGinn

Jaccob Slavin - Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Jake Gardiner - Brett Pesce
Haydn Fleury - Joel Edmundson

James Reimer
Petr Mrazek