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Leafs and Hurricanes put streaks on line as NHL resumes


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The Toronto Maple Leafs have won five games in a row four times this season, and Monday night they will try to extend their current streak to an elusive sixth straight win when they host the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes are on a four-game streak of their own, and both teams are well-rested as play resumes after the All-Star break.

Preceding the break, these two were playing as well or better than any team in the Eastern Conference, each 7-2-1 over the last 10 games

“I’m really excited with where we’re at and what we’ve done,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “You’re seeking perfection. That’s what you’re pursuing every day here. You’re trying to get as good as you possibly can. You’ll never get to perfect, but that’s what you’re seeking to do.”

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Carolina has played well enough all season to spark talk of a possible Stanley Cup run.

“There are two ways to look at it,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “You can state the obvious and look at stats and points and all that — or look at it, as I like to, as how you’re playing. We’ve played pretty good all year.

“We’ve had a couple of hiccups here or there, but it hasn’t bled into a long stretch of it. We seem to bounce back when we have an off night.”

Consistency has been a trademark of the Hurricanes over the first 42 games of the season.

“That’s what we pride ourselves on,” Brind’Amour said. “Every team says the same thing and we’re no different, but you’ve got to back it up. That’s been one of the things from day one, we want to make sure, win or lose, you can walk out and the people who paid the money to come watch you can say, ‘They gave you your money’s worth.’ And I feel like this group takes that to heart.”

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Their 64 points rank fourth in the league, but they have five games in hand on the Florida Panthers, on top with 69 points. Carolina’s points percentage (.762) is the best in the NHL.

“I think the only thing is playing a full 60 minutes,” Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce said. “Obviously we’re one of the better teams in the league record-wise and we have a lot of confidence in our group. Sometimes, we tend to get a little lackadaisical, whether to start the game or end the game. I think as the year gets on and with more playoff-like games you’re going to need to play a full 60 minutes every night.”

Mitchell Marner is on a seven-game goal streak for the Maple Leafs. He has eight goals and eight assists during the streak.

When the teams met on Oct. 25, Carolina defeated the Maple Leafs 4-1, with former Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen earning the win.

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“We got a real sense of what a Stanley Cup-contending team looks and feels like,” Keefe said after that game in Raleigh, N.C. “That’s the hardest game we’ve played in this season by a wide margin in terms of the pressure, in terms of how difficult it is, in terms of how little time you have with the puck.”

This will be Andersen’s first visit to Toronto with the Hurricanes. He played 268 games for the Maple Leafs (2016-21) before signing as a free agent with Carolina.

“He checks all the boxes,” Brind’Amour said.

“Freddie has been a solid brick wall back there,” Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin said. “Just a steady, calm goalie. You know you’re going to get his best effort back there every night, so you can appreciate that.”

As Andersen has thrived with Carolina, Jack Campbell has been strong in goal for Toronto this season, as both rank among the league leaders in goals-against average and save percentage.

–Field Level Media

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