Game Analysis: Maple Leafs At Hurricanes

Eric Staal celebrates a goal Thursday in Carolina's 4-3 overtime win over the Maple Leafs. Staal scored his first power play goal in more than two months and had his third three-point game of the season. (Photo by Jamie Kellner)

The Carolina Hurricanes pushed their home winning streak to three games by rallying from a two-goal deficit with less than 11 minutes left to tie the game, then captain Eric Staal scored his second goal of the night during an overtime power play to give the Canes the win.

Brandon Sutter and Zac Dalpe also scored, and Cam Ward made 21 saves and got the win. Carolina improved to 13-20-6 with 32 points, three points behind Montreal and Tampa Bay who are tied for 12th in the Eastern Conference, and rank 27th in the NHL.

Three Observations

1. Dalpe and Drayson Bowman made their mark in the win. Bowman fed Sutter for the game's first goal, while Dalpe was a force alongside Staal in the third period. Dalpe's goal was a beauty as he collected a rebound in front and eventually backhanded the puck top shelf over Toronto goalie James Reimer to tie the game. His earlier assist sparked the Canes and the crowd, as he sent Staal off on a breakaway that No. 12 deposited in the net.

2. Ward allowed two goals that he probably wants back, but he still outdueled a shaky Reimer. Ward is a respectable 13-14-5, but the Canes are still waiting for their backup goalie to earn a win this season. Carolina is the NHL's only team without two goalies with a win. Ward hasn't been as good as he's been in past seasons, but it's hard to expect him to do it on his own between the pipes.

3. It was great to see Staal take control of the game. Not only did he finish with three points, but he played a key role on the penalty kill, often lining up aside Sutter. He converted a breakway — a situation he has struggled with all season — to bring the Canes within one, and he notched his first power play goal since Oct. 18 to give the Canes the win in overtime. There have been a few moments this season when it looked like Staal was ready to finally break through and get on a roll. Let's hope this is the watershed moment.

Number To Know

0 — Shots for Phil Kessel, the first time this season he was held without one. The last time the Toronto sniper was held without a shot was last season against Boston on March 19 .

Plus

Brandon Sutter — See above. Sutter was the driving force in shutting down Kessel and his linemates, plus he scored his seventh goal of the season to open scoring. He also helped keep the NHL's No. 5 power play off the board, logging 5:32 shorthanded minutes.

Minus

Tim Brent — It's not that Brent played poorly, but it is a concern that Carolina's fourth-line center — who was brought in to win faceoffs and kill penalties — was just three of six on the draw and is no longer part of the Canes’ penalty killing. Brent's 11 points so far have him on pace for a career-high 23 points, but if he's not winning in the circle (46.2 percent on the year) and not contributing shorthanded, you have to wonder if a younger player couldn't take his place.

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