The Toronto Maple Leafs were supposed to be the road weary team but they came into the ACC fired up and gave the Carolina Hurricanes everything the visitors could handle as the Canes broke a three game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Leafs on Tuesday night.
Five goals were scored in the first period alone as these two scoring challenged clubs took advantage of wide open play to light up their respective lamps.
The youngest player in the league, Jeff Skinner, got things going at 7:34 with a goal after a scramble in front of the Toronto net. It was the rookie's ninth of the season and broke a 10 game goal drought. Tuomo Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen had the assists.
The Hurricanes got themselves into trouble in this game with several penalties and the Leafs were able to answer by scoring their first goal during a 5-on-3 advantage when Phil Kessel blasted a one-timer past Cam Ward. Eric Staal and Joni Pitkanen were both in the box as Staal received a double minor for high sticking and Pitkanen cleared a puck into the crowd.
Staal would atone for his error though as he stole a puck at center ice and beat Jonas Gustavsson with a nice move at the 14:08 mark.
But Kessel didn't waste any time as he tied the game less than a minute and change later.
Staal would answer once again though, this time with a powerplay goal with less than 10 seconds on the clock. The goal gave Carolina a 3-2 advantage at the end of the first.
The second period seemed to be all Toronto as Ward had to stand on his head to keep the Canes in it. The Canes were called for three penalties and were outshot 14-7. Even though they dominated, the Leafs only scored once though as Mikhail Grabovski tied things up with a powerplay tally 8:34 into the period.
The third period was a bit more tightly contested. After being unable to score on two powerplay chances earlier in the period, the Canes scored the game winner while at even strength. Zach Boychuk made a nice play to get the puck out to Tim Gleason, who rifled a shot on net. Patrick Dwyer was able to tip the puck past Gustavsson.
The Canes held on the rest of the way, even though Boychuk and Staal each took penalties late in the game.
The recent call up from Charlotte saw a lot more time in this game and had several positive moments. He almost scored during one powerplay as he sent the puck through the crease area and got the secondary assist on the game winner.
Jussi Jokinen left the contest early because of a lower body concern and only had 1:58 of playing time. Paul Maurice said after the game that the injury was not serious, although he might miss tomorrow night's game.
The team will play the second half of this back-to-back tomorrow night in Ottawa.
Quick Thoughts and Stats:
- Eric Staal said after the game that Carolina GM Jim Rutherford came into the locker room during the second intermission and had some words for the team. He was not happy with their play in the second period.
- The Canes were outshot in the game 37-27. Cam Ward made 34 saves on those 37 shots and was named the game's first star.
- Erik Cole had a team high five shots and was set up by Staal for a primo scoring opportunity later in the game but he missed the chance.
- The team won 47% of the game's faceoffs. Staal had 50%, Sutter 35%, Carter 43%, and Skinner won 63%.
- Carolina took way too many penalties and the club really needs to tighten up their discipline as well as play in their own end. They had seven minors in this match.
- Tim Gleason should have been given a star as he saved one goal by diving in front of an open net and played like a wild man most of the night. He finished with a team high +3 and game high 25:21 of ice time.
- The Hurricanes were credited with 24 hits, led by Skinner with four. Ruutu was next with three.
- Jamie McBain had a team high five blocked shots and finished at +2.
Post game quotes below:
(Paul Maurice sounds like he is performing stand up at the Improv.)