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Carolina Streakin': Hurricanes 6, Maple Leafs 1

Canes win fifth straight and dominate flat Leafs, 6-1

John-Michael Liles celebrates a goal against his former team at the PNC Arena
John-Michael Liles celebrates a goal against his former team at the PNC Arena
Grant Halverson

The red-hot Carolina Hurricanes won their fifth straight game with a 6-1 shellacking of a lifeless Toronto Maple Leafs squad on Thursday night in front of 16,583 at the PNC Arena.

The Canes jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the opening period and went on to the first intermission with a 3-1 lead.

The Leafs could get no closer as the home team ended up scoring two powerplay goals, a shorthanded one, and three even strength tallies.

Anton Khudobin won his fourth straight game since returning from injury and improved his record this season to 6-0-0.  When asked if he was playing as well as he has in his career, he shrugged and said he is doing about the same as every game, he just tries to stop each puck.

Zach Boychuk opened the scoring with a nifty backhander just 2:33 into the game.  The Canes were all over the Leafs in the early minutes and created several scoring chances.

Jeff Skinner made it 2-0, 8:33 into the game on a powerplay tally.  Elias Lindholm, who just returned from earning silver at the World Junior Championship, earned second assists on both goals.

Later in the period, Joffrey Lupul made it 2-1 as he found an open spot in the Carolina zone, but Patrick Dwyer knocked in another goal before the end of the period to make it 3-1, home team.

At 3:39 into the second period, Boychuk took the puck in the Toronto zone alone on a 3-on-1 break.  He found John-Michael Liles, who was wide open, with a perfect pass and the former Leaf made no mistake as he beat James Reimer with a one-timer to make it, 4-1 Canes.

The Leafs tried to come back later in the second period but Khudobin shut the door with a couple of nice saves and the Canes were able to take control once again.

The Hurricanes were killing a penalty early in the third period, but Jordan Staal stole the puck and skated it into the Toronto zone again.  He beat Reimer with a perfect high shot into the corner of the net to make it 5-1, just 25 seconds into the final period.

The goal was Carolina's eighth shorthanded goal of the season, which leads the NHL.  (It was their first at home).

The Canes would get some more powerplay time late in the game and Lindholm would knock in a rebound to make it 6-1, while earning his third point of the game.  Jordan Staal had four points though, and was named the game's first star.

The five game winning streak is the longest since March 2010 for Carolina and this is the most goals they have scored in a game all season.  They will not have much of a chance to celebrate though as they fly to Columbus right after the game to take on the Blue Jackets on Friday night.

Games Notes:

  • Justin Faulk dropped the gloves with Joffrey Lupul at 9:02 into the third and Faulk got some nice shots in while the crowd was chanting USA...USA... as they tuned up for the Olympics.
  • Khudobin made 25 saves on 26 shots and now has the second highest save percentage in the league, (.943).  There is no doubt that Muller will ride the hot goalie and we will see what happens. 
  • Liles had to be pleased to score against his former team.  He mentioned that it had been an up and down year because he spent some time in the AHL while with the Leafs organization.  But he is happy to be back in the NHL, is very pleased to be with the Hurricanes, and just wants to play and contribute.  So far he has done exactly that.
  • Andrej Sekera played a team high 22:36.  Brett Sutter was low man at 11:43. 
  • The Canes outshot the Leafs 36-26.  Brett Bellemore led the Canes with five shots on goal.
  • Manny Malhotra won a game best 74% of his faceoffs.  The team won 57%.
  • The Canes had 20 blocked shots and were led by Sekera with four.  Brett Sutter had a team high four hits.