It just wasn’t the Hurricanes’ night as they failed to mount a strong enough effort, and the odd-man rushes they kept conceding kept winding up in the back of their net.
Of the five goals that the Maple Leafs scored, three of them came off of the rush on odd-man situations. Sure, you’d have liked rookie netminder Pyotr Kochetkov to have made another save or two throughout the night — he wound up giving up 2.81 goals more than expected according to MoneyPuck.com — the team was doing him no favors.
It didn’t take long for Toronto to strike, as Zach Aston-Reese outmuscled his man in the slot and scored just 2:54 into the contest, getting a stick on an Erik Gustafsson shot and redirecting it past Kochetkov.
Later on in the period, Mitch Marner wound up with the puck in the neutral zone and upon seeing that the lone Hurricane in his way was forward Martin Necas, he blew past him and rifled a shot blocker-side high that went off the post and in.
The Hurricanes would get the quick response as a Brady Skjei shot trickled through Ilya Samsonov, but it didn’t take long for Toronto’s two-goal lead to be restored.
On the power play, the Leafs really channeled some luck from the St. Pats jerseys they had adorned and John Tavares took a shot that bounced off of Auston Matthews leg and in.
So after just one period, the Canes had conceded three goals and were staring at a two-goal deficit.
But midway through the second period, Necas redeemed his earlier defensive misplay and offensive gaffe where he airmailed a breakaway chance, burying a feed from the middle of the circle to cut Toronto’s lead to one.
But as Necas giveth. so to does Necas taketh away as he overskated a puck in the neutral zone, which led to a 2-on-1 opportunity the other way, which Aston-Reese finished on the sauce across.
The Maple Leafs would grab one more as Morgn Rielly got free for another 2-on-1, shooting it blocker-side high on Kochetkov again, and that’d be the final score of the game.
The Hurricanes just didn’t have what it took to run with the Leafs top-tier offense and especially because of the amount of odd-man rushes they were conceding.
The team has gotten a lot looser defensively, and that’s not a good sign for a team that has lost its top scoring threats as the year has gone on.
The Canes will be back in action tomorrow, in a less than 24 hour turnaround, for the second half of a back-to-back as they play the Flyers in Philly at 5 p.m.