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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, December 29th (All times Eastern)

Carolina Hurricanes (14-15-9) at Toronto Maple Leafs (19-16-5), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Despite some success this season, Toronto coach Randy Carlyle isn't a fan of shootouts.

The Maple Leafs have gone to the tie-breaking format in four straight games and on Sunday night try to pick up a rare recent victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Toronto has split its last four games, including a 4-3 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. Joffrey Lupul had the lone goal of the breakaway session, giving the Leafs two points after the club yielded a tying goal to the Sabres with 24.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Maple Leafs trailed 2-0 after the first period, but Jake Gardiner and Peter Holland scored within five minutes of each other in the second frame to even things up. Phil Kessel then put Toronto ahead on a goal with 17 ticks left in the second period.

Jonathan Bernier stopped 32 shots over the first 65 minutes, then turned away all three Buffalo chances in the breakaway competition as the Leafs moved to 6-4 in shootouts this season.

"It's not easy winning in the NHL. It's proven night in and night out. There are a lot of shootouts taking place. We're at four in a row now," said Carlyle.

"Do we like shootouts? No."

The Maple Leafs lost a 60-minute decision to the Hurricanes on Oct. 17 when the clubs met in Toronto for the first of three meetings this season.

James Reimer got the start for Toronto, but left 32 seconds in after getting hit in the head during a collision with teammate Josh Leivo. Bernier made 34 saves in relief, but his misplaying of the puck led to Carolina's go-ahead goal.

That came when the Hurricanes' Ron Hainsey cleared the puck out from his own end down the left wing. The puck then bounced off the backboards to the left of Bernier and slid towards the net. Bernier made an attempt to swipe it away with the stick, but missed and the puck bounced off his right skate and snuck in with 6:56 to play.

That gave Carolina 11 wins in its last 15 versus the Leafs overall and eight in the previous 11 played in Toronto.

Cam Ward made 24 saves in the win for the Hurricanes, who come into tonight's meeting having gone 0-2-2 in their last four games and 1-3-4 in the previous eight.

Carolina saw its winless streak extended with a 4-3 overtime setback to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. The Hurricanes pulled even on Drayson Bowman's goal with 2:29 to go in regulation, but the Pens' James Neal beat Justin Peters from the slot 63 seconds into overtime.

Nathan Gerbe had a goal and an assist for Carolina, while Peters stopped 22 shots.

"It would have been nice to get two points," Peters said following his third start in a row. "Getting a late goal was a big booster because you get that point."

It is unknown if Ward will finally return to net tonight. He has allowed at least three goals in six straight and in eight of his nine games since coming back from injury.

The Hurricanes are in danger of matching a season-high five-game slide from Oct. 24-Nov. 2 and face a Leafs team that is expected to have center Tyler Bozak back in the lineup.

Bozak has not played since Dec. 3 due to a strained oblique and has four goals and seven assists in 16 games this season.

12/29 10:23:22 ET

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