Game Analysis: Hurricanes At Maple Leafs

Cam Ward and Justin Faulk celebrate Carolina’s 3-2 win Thursday in Toronto. - Abelimages

The Carolina Hurricanes pulled off another third-period comeback, this time completing the job courtesy a fluke goal to come away with a 3-2 win Thursday in Toronto. The Canes are now 3-2-3 with nine points, good for second in the Metropolitan Division.

Prior to Tuesday’s loss to Chicago, Ron Hainsey hadn't scored in 122 games. Thanks to Jonathan Bernier’s misplay on Thursday’s game-winning goal, he now has goals in two straight. The Hurricanes benefited, having first erased a two-goal, third-period deficit before getting the clincher. Ryan Murphy scored his first career goal and Eric Staal had Carolina’s other marker, while Cam Ward continued his solid play with 24 saves.

Three Observations

1. Radek Dvorak’s hustle benefited the Canes again. His play on the eventual game-winning goal led to the linesman calling off icing, and Dvorak had a front-row seat to see the Toronto goalie’s blunder that made the score 3-2. Plus/minus is far from a perfect stat (see Justin Faulk being minus-2 after two periods even though he was having a great game), but there's a reason Dvorak has been on the ice for eight of Carolina’s 18 goals this season and is a plus-4.

2. Carolina won the battle against the league’s best combined special teams unit Thursday, scoring a power play goal and keeping the Leafs off the score sheet on four penalty kills. Each team had four chances with the man advantage, and Carolina outshot Toronto 9-3 in those in the teams' power play opportunities. Jeff Skinner assisted on Murphy's goal, giving him points on four of the Hurricanes’s five power play conversions through eight games.

3. Carolina’s defense corps performed well overall Thursday, including rookie Brett Bellemore. Bellemore had hit a bump in the road the past two games, but he rebounded from those performances to play 17-plus minutes, including 3:25 on Carolina’s perfect penalty kill. Jay Harrison also led the team with six hits.

Number To Know

1:57 — Minutes played by Kevin Westgarth Thursday. We all know why Westgarth was dressed, but it's a shame to see a solid energy player like Brett Sutter sit out so that Carolina can match up a player with Colton Orr for a couple shifts.

Plus

Ryan Murphy — Murphy continues to impose his will offensively. His first NHL goal — which came against his hometown Leafs with several friends and family at the ACC — took a lucky bounce, but prior to that he weaved through the Toronto D on an end-to-end rush that showcased his skating and puck-handling skills. Since Murphy and Harrison started seeing more time playing with the Hurricanes top line during the Chicago game, the rookie defenseman has looked more comfortable and assertive. It resulted in his first goal.

Minus

Tuomo Ruutu — In just his third game of the season, Ruutu looked out of sorts. He took two penalties — on the second, he allowed Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf to get under skin on the previous play — and was one of a few players (Jordan Staal, Drayson Bowman) to flat-out miss a golden scoring opportunity. He played just one shift in the third period when coach Kirk Muller reunited Jiri Tlusty with Eric Staal and Alexander Semin on the top line and Patrick Dwyer with Jordan Staal and Nathan Gerbe.

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