The Leafs outshot the Canes in the first period 13-6 and continued the onslaught throughout as they had more shots on goal in each and every period. They ended up with 41 as the Canes got 27 through to the net, with 12 of those coming in the final period.
Toronto goalie James Reimer picked up his first career shutout, and perhaps did so without having to make a glove save all night. Give the goalie credit, he was positionally sound throughout the game and made almost every save look easy, but the Canes didn't do nearly enough to make things tough on the rookie.
A key part of the game was when the Leafs killed about a minute and a half of a 5-on-3 about midway through the second period. The Toronto defense, and Tim Brent, were blocking shots like their lives depended on it during the sequence.
That got the usually placid ACC crowd into the game and needless to say fired up the entire team as they took it to Carolina even more after the kill.
In all, the Leafs blocked a total of 28 shots as Francois Beauchemin had seven on his own. The Canes had a total of 13 blocked shots.
There was no score in the first period as Cam Ward made a few nice saves and looked like he was on top of his game. But the Leafs scored at 7:28 into the second when Clarke MacArthur got a long shot past the screened goaltender.
Toronto made it 2-0 later in the period when Darryl Boyce stole a Joni Pitkanen clearing attempt along the boards and took the puck all alone to the net. He beat Ward for his third goal of the year.
But the real back-breaker came about six minutes into the third when Ward made a sprawling save, perhaps his best of the year, during an odd man rush attempt by Toronto. But even after that save, yet another Leaf was wide open. Kris Versteeg finally put his shot past Ward as Carolina defenders were nowhere to be found.
Uncharacteristically, Ward slammed his stick against the pipes in rage after the play, breaking it. That action more or less sums up the frustration level for the Hurricanes.
The Canes remain just one point behind Atlanta and will next face the Thrashers on Saturday night, another team which has lost two in a row since the All Star break.
While it was a disappointing performance tonight, all can be forgotten with a regulation win Saturday, which would put the team into eighth place. If the team loses Saturday, it will be tough to recover from as they then hit the road for five straight tough road games.
Quick Thoughts and Stats:
- Give the Leafs lots of credit. They battled hard in this game, for themselves and for their goalie, and obviously wanted to take it to the Canes right from the start. They played like they wanted it more than Carolina.
- Joni Pitkanen is not making any new fans with his recent play. His turnover and feeble attempt to regain the puck, led to the second goal of the game. The defenseman had a team worse four giveaways in the contest. Hopefully, he can regain his confidence quickly and play like he has shown in the past.
- Tim Gleason dropped the gloves with Toronto tough guy, Jay Rosehill. It was a pretty even battle until the taller Rosehill (6'3) dragged Gleason, (6'0) down when they got in close. Losing Carolina's toughest defenseman for five minutes was not exactly a good trade off for Carolina, but perhaps now the Leafs can stop whining about the Kulemin incident. Kudos to Gleason for dropping the mitts when he didn't have to.
- Paul Maurice mixed up his lines liberally. Zach Boychuk played 16 minutes and was second on the team with four shots. Chad LaRose led the club with five.
- The Canes outhit the Leafs 24-16. Ruutu and Cole led the way with four each.
- Sutter had a team best 59% in the faceoff circle. The team finished at 44%.
post game audio: