Having the best players playing the best is what Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour looks for from this team.
He has seen that development often this season, and that has equated to quite a bit of success.
“Our top guys have been playing really well,” Brind’Amour said.
The Hurricanes will take a four-game winning streak into Sunday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Raleigh, N.C.
The Maple Leafs have a three-game points streak, including back-to-back victories. The most recent of those came with a 2-1 decision against visiting Boston on Saturday night, with Auston Matthews scoring both Toronto goals.
Maple Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren made his season debut in that game after being out because of a hernia.
“It gives us another really good option both 5-on-5 and on the penalty kill,” coach Sheldon Keefe said. “He has the ability to play against really good people.”
The Leafs ended the Bruins’ seven-game winning streak, and they’d like to douse another streak on Sunday.
For the Hurricanes, perhaps front and center is center Sebastian Aho. He’s coming off a hat trick from Friday night’s 5-3 victory against the Buffalo Sabres. A night earlier, he provided the winning tally in a shootout victory at Tampa Bay.
“What I see is his consistency,” Brind’Amour said. “Every night is pretty much the same. As elite players, that’s how they’re built. Every night they are playing. They are your top guy. They are impactful.”
Aho has five hat tricks in his career.
Left winger Teuvo Teravainen, a frequent linemate of Aho’s, could be shifting into gear. He halted a four-game pointless stretch with two assists Friday night for his first multi-point game of the season.
Emerging for the Hurricanes has been center Martin Necas, who holds a career-long six-game points streak. He has seven points in five career games vs. the Maple Leafs.
This will mark the only road assignment for the Maple Leafs among their first six November games. They went 1-3-2 in October road games.
Part of what has helped the Maple Leafs navigate a tough early stretch this season was the steady guidance from captain John Tavares. He had a hat trick Wednesday against Philadelphia and has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) for the season.
“He just remains consistent, and that’s what he does,” Keefe said. “A guy like that just continues to work and push.”
Frederik Andersen figures to be back in net as Carolina’s goalie after he was the backup Friday night.
For Brind’Amour, this will be his 300th game as Carolina’s coach, becoming the fifth man in franchise history to reach that level. He already has 182 wins, far ahead of Peter Laviolette’s 157 for the most in team history through 300 games.
This will be the first of three meetings between the teams this season, though the other matchups will come in March. Toronto won two of three games against the Hurricanes last season, with the loss coming in the lone visit to Raleigh.
–Field Level Media