For the Carolina Hurricanes to win the 2023 Stanley Cup, odds are their journey will involve defeating one of the three teams that will visit Raleigh in the next four days.
A home back-to-back begins tonight when the Toronto Maple Leafs come to Raleigh for the final regular season meeting of the year, the second of four straight home games against playoff teams and the first of three in a row against the top teams in the Atlantic Division. If the Canes want to get the taste of Thursday’s come-from-ahead loss to the Rangers out of their mouth, a solid showing in the next four days against the Leafs, Bruins and Lightning will go a long way to making that happen.
Coming off a loss, it’s no surprise that the Hurricanes will mix things up again tonight, with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen again joining forces on the top line and a reunion of the third line that’s played pretty much the entire season together. Pyotr Kochetkov will take the net, and here’s how the team in front of him will line up:
Teuvo Teravainen - Sebastian Aho - Martin Necas
Seth Jarvis - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Stefan Noesen
Jordan Martinook - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast
Jack Drury - Derek Stepan - Jesse Puljujarvi
Jaccob Slavin - Brent Burns
Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce
Shayne Gostisbehere - Jalen Chatfield
Injuries and Scratches: Paul Stastny (healthy), Calvin de Haan (healthy), Dylan Coghlan (healthy), Antti Raanta (lower body), Andrei Svechnikov (LTIR knee), Max Pacioretty (LTIR Achilles), Ondrej Kase (LTIR concussion)
The Leafs and Canes last met eight days ago in Toronto, a too-easy 5-2 win for Toronto that saw Kochetkov lit up for five goals on 24 shots. That win was the start of three wins in four for the Leafs, but the one loss was a 7-2 demolition at the hands of the Islanders that prompted Sheldon Keefe to blow everything up and go with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen on Thursday against the Panthers.
Needless to say, after the Leafs got right in a 6-2 win in Sunrise, the gamble paid off, and we’re likely to again see an 11/7 lineup tonight. Matt Murray got the win on Thursday and will get the start again tonight. Ilya Samsonov, who stymied the Hurricanes last week, is back in Toronto after the birth of his first child.
Here’s how the Leafs are likely to look as they seek a season sweep of the Hurricanes:
Calle Jarnkrok - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Michael Bunting - John Tavares - William Nylander
Alex Kerfoot - Noel Acciari - Sam Lafferty
Zach Aston-Reese - David Kampf
T.J. Brodie - Morgan Rielly
Mark Giordano - Timothy Liljegren
Jake McCabe - Justin Holl
Injuries and Scratches: Ilya Samsonov (personal), Erik Gustafsson (healthy), Wayne Simmonds (healthy), Conor Timmins (healthy), Jake Muzzin (LTIR neck), Ryan O’Reilly (LTIR broken finger), Victor Mete (LTIR upper body), Nicholas Robertson (LTIR shoulder)
Referees: Mitch Dunning #20, Graham Skilliter #24
Linesmen: James Tobias #61, C.J. Murray #68