Eric Staal broke out of a slump in a big way on Thursday night as he scored two goals -- including the game winner in overtime -- and the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4 -3, in overtime in front of 17,461 at the RBC. Staal also added an assist and had a team high three points on the night.
Staal's linemates, Jiri Tlusty and Zac Dalpe, had two points each.
The Hurricanes struck first in the game when Brandon Sutter rifled a shot past James Reimer just eight minutes and change into the game. Drayson Bowman earned the only assist on the play.
But just 1:43 into the second period, Nazem Kadri tied things up when he fooled Cam Ward right in front.
The score remained tied up until the third period when it looked like the Leafs would blow things open as they scored twice to take a 3-1 lead. But Staal broke into the clear -- with the help of a nice assist and hard work along the boards by Dalpe -- and buried his breakaway chance.
The Hurricanes had new life as they pressured in the Toronto zone more diligently and just two minutes and two seconds later, Dalpe would roof in a Tlusty rebound to tie the score.
The game went into overtime, but the Canes drew a penalty when Sutter was tripped trying to get the puck out of his own end. Staal would then score the game winner on a blistering shot from just to the side of the circle.
The Carolina captain said that he received some advice from his brother Jordan, who told him to just shoot everything at the net. Usually, it's the older brother giving the younger brother advice, but this time the advice worked for the eldest.
The Canes have now won three of their last four games and have earned points in six of their last eight.
- It was Staal's best performance of the season and something everyone related to the club had been waiting for. He played a team high 24:20 of ice time and had a team high five shots on goal to go with his three points. We will see if this gets him in a groove.
- Sutter also had a great all around game and his defensive hustle right before drawing a penalty could have saved the night. The alternate captain made several defensive gems to go along with his pretty shot and goal to start off the game. He also won 71% of his faceoffs.
- The team had 18 blocked shots led by McBain, Allen, and Faulk with three each.
- After a slow start, Carolina outshot Toronto 34-24. After Staal's five, Alexei Ponikarovsky was next with four shots.
- The team won 56% of the game's faceoffs. (Staal 44%, Sutter 71%, Jokinen 47%, Brent 50%)