Chris Terry, Justin Faulk, Andrej Sekera and Elias Lindholm all scored for Carolina — the first time the Hurricanes have scored more than once since Dec. 2 — to lead the team past the red-hot Maple Leafs, 4-1, at PNC Arena on Thursday.
1. Balance. Look no further than the evenly distributed ice time from Thursday’s game to see what a game in Bill Peters’ system should look like. Outside of Justin Shugg — who in just 6:52 had two legitimate chances at his first NHL goal — and Brad Malone (9:48), Carolina’s forwards played between 17:35 (Jeff Skinner) and 12:10 (Zach Boychuk). The defensive minutes were also well distributed, with Faulk playing a team-high 24:28 and Brett Bellemore logging 15:06.
2. After six games without a point, Lindholm got on the scoresheet for the second straight game with his empty-net goal. But don't let the fact that it was a gimme goal discredit Lindholm’s night: the 20-year-old forward had a game-high eight shots on goal and nine shot attempts as the line with Victor Rask centering him and Skinner carried the play shift after shift.
3. Speaking of carrying the play, Carolina really took it to Toronto’s young defensemen. Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly and Cody Franson all struggled against the Hurricanes’ persistent attack, be it the speed of Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Dwyer, the physicality of Eric Staal and Lindholm, or the shiftiness of Skinner and Rask. Meanwhile, Michal Jordan looked solid after the team traded away Jay Harrison earlier in the afternoon and essentially gave him a vote of confidence, and Bellmore’s return led to better play by frequent partner Ron Hainsey, even if Bellemore was understandably rusty after not playing since he was injured Nov. 22.
Number To Know
2 — Shorthanded goals for Justin Faulk this season, the most of any defenseman in the NHL and the first Hurricanes blueliner to score multiple man-down goals since Mike Commodore had two (one of a 5-on-3 kill) in 2006-07. A defenseman has scored multiple shorthanded goals only seven times since the start of the 2007-08. The most notable are Kimmo Timonen (two in both 2009-10 and 2010-11) and Ryan McDonagh, who had three shorthanded goals for the Rangers last season. Only three defensemen have scored more than two shorthanded goals in the season this century: McDonagh, Keith Ballard (three in 2005-06 with Phoenix), and Steve Staios (three in 2002-03 with Edmonton). Paul Coffey has the most ever by a rearguard in a season with nine in 1985-86 with the Oilers. Former Whalers great Mark Howe has the most shorthanded goals by a defenseman in a career with 26 in 15 NHL seasons. He had 24 more in six WHA seasons.
Cam Ward — Ward continues to play well for the Hurricanes, outdueling Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier en route to his ninth win of the season. After breaking the 30-win mark in five of his first six seasons as a No. 1 starter, Ward is within a win of his total from last season and tied with his mark from 2012-13. Thirty wins certainly seems unlikely given the Hurricanes record, but there’s no denying that Ward — whose 2.47 goals-against average is close to his career best of 2.44 in 2008-09 — is playing his best hockey in some time.
Riley Nash — The Carolina center is still looking to rediscover the game that had him playing so well early in the season. After scoring four goals in his first 13 games, Nash hasn't found the back of the net in the last 18 games and has just one assist in his past 11 games. Nash also hasn't registered a shot on goal in three games and he was one of just two Carolina forwards to finish with a negative Corsi on a night when the Hurricanes smothered the Leafs in possession stats.