Posted November 20, 2011 on AP on Fox
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With a depleted lineup and a shaky situation in net, the Toronto Maple Leafs have become more reliant on Phil Kessel. Joffrey Lupul is certainly stepping up as well. Lupul and the Maple Leafs will visit the struggling Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, going for their third straight win in the series. Toronto (11-7-2) has been inundated with injuries recently, including to starting goaltender James Reimer and forwards Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur, who have combined for 11 goals. Defenseman Mike Komisarek needs surgery for a broken arm and will be out at least eight weeks. While the injuries have placed more pressure on Kessel, who leads the NHL with 14 goals and 27 points, the Maple Leafs had 10 players record at least one point in a 7-1 victory over Washington on Saturday - just their second win in seven games. Kessel and Lupul each had a minus-4 rating in a 4-1 loss to Nashville on Thursday, but Kessel had a goal and an assist Saturday while Lupul had a goal and three assists. Matt Frattin scored his first NHL goal. "We didn't really have too much secondary the last four games," Frattin said. "It kind of hurt us because (opponents) were getting leads and we couldn't really come back because we couldn't get one in the net. Today it looked like every line was firing." Lupul has been firing all season. He has at least one point in 15 of Toronto's 20 games, and has moved among the NHL's top five in scoring with 24 points. "I have a lot of confidence right now because we've been getting some results," Lupul said. "I didn't expect this type of start, but I did expect myself to play well." Ben Scrivens is scheduled to start Sunday in net after Jonas Gustavsson made 40 saves Saturday. Scrivens has lost his last three starts to drop to 2-3-1 this season with a 2.95 goals-against average. However, the rookie will get a seemingly favorable matchup against Carolina (6-11-3), which has dropped three in a row and seven of eight while struggling to score. The Hurricanes have been shut out in their last two games, losing 4-0 at Montreal on Wednesday and 1-0 against Buffalo on Friday. Carolina went 0 for 3 on the power play against the Sabres and is now 0 for 21 in its last six games. Eric Staal's struggles continued Friday as he went without a point for the ninth time in his last 11 games. He has four goals, four assists and a league-worst minus-18 rating this season. Despite having totaled nine goals in its last seven losses, Carolina feels it's close to turning things around. The Hurricanes outshot the Sabres 34-20 and gave up their fewest goals since a 3-0 win over Chicago on Oct. 28. "People that aren't inside the locker room, obviously it's about wins and losses," backup goalie Brian Boucher said. "But we as players, we have to look at the process and the process is what's important." Forward Patrick Dwyer will be a game-time decision after being injured Friday. Joni Pitkanen, who has missed the last four games with a lower-body injury, is day-to-day as well. The Hurricanes said Cam Ward will be back in net Sunday. He's 1-6-0 with a 4.79 GAA in his last seven starts overall, and has dropped his last two against the Maple Leafs. Carolina totaled one goal in those two defeats to Toronto in February and March, settling for a split of the 2010-11 season series.
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