NHL Game Summary - Toronto at Carolina
(Thursday, November 3rd)
Final Score: Carolina 4, Toronto 3
Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - Eric Cole's goal with 1:34 remaining in the third period broke a tie and lifted the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in an exciting contest at RBC Center.
Eric Staal regained his lead in the NHL scoring race with two goals and an assist for red-hot Carolina, which has won six straight games. Ray Whitney added a goal and an assist in the victory. Cam Ward allowed three goals on 25 shots for the Hurricanes, who have also captured six consecutive home contests.
Alexander Steen recorded a pair of goals for Toronto, which has dropped three of its last four games. Matt Stajan also scored and assisted on both of Steen's goals while Ed Belfour made 31 saves in the loss.
With the contest knotted at 3-3 late in regulation, the puck was corralled by Cory Stillman at the base of the left half-wall along the goal line. Stillman sent a pass to the goal mouth, where Cole was in perfect position for a redirection and the game-winner.
"We couldn't stop the last play," said Maple Leafs head coach Pat Quinn. "It looked like it should've been stopped, but we didn't do it."
Toronto forward Jeff O'Neill made his return to Raleigh for the first time in an opposing uniform. He had spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Carolina franchise but signed with Toronto this past summer.
After Steen tied the contest at 2-2 with a late second-period goal, he struck again just 59 seconds into the third for a 3-2 Toronto lead. A tremendous effort by Jason Allison to keep the puck behind the Carolina net drew two defenders to him and, as he took a hit, found Steen below the left circle for a one-timer.
Stall's second marker of the game created a 3-3 deadlock at the 3:57 mark. With Clarke Wilm in the penalty box due to a holding the stick minor, Whitney's shot from the left point was deflected by Cole. The save was made, but the rebound caromed to Staal, who was left all alone at the base of the right circle and he pounded it home.
Midway through the third, Staal had a great chance to complete the hat trick and put Carolina in front, but Belfour made a great pad save at the right post.
The Hurricanes entered the second period trailing by one after Stajan had put the Leafs ahead just 1:29 into the game with his third goal of the season.
At the 3:25 mark of the second, Staal knotted the contest. He collected a nice feed from Eric Cole and hustled in on a breakaway before firing a wrist shot over the right shoulder of Belfour.
"He's playing with a lot of confidence right now," added Carolina head coach Peter Laviolette about Staal. "If you've got speed, you can spring yourself for a breakaway like he did."
A power-play tally with six minutes remaining in the second frame put the Hurricanes ahead 2-1. Staal held control at the top of the left circle and passed down low to Whitney along the goal line. Whitney skated toward the net and attempted a pass into the crease, but the puck hit the skate of Aki Berg and came directly back to Whitney, who easily slipped it into the net. Belfour, who was in the midst of sliding across in anticipation of the pass, had no chance.
However, less than four minutes later, Steen tied it up from in close. A great lead pass from Ken Klee found the stick of Stajan, who streaked down the left- wing side on a 2-on-2 with Steen. Stajan threaded a pass across the slot to Steen, who avoided a stick check and lit the lamp at 17:49.
Staal extended his point streak to seven games...This marked Steen's first career multi-goal game...Staal was recently named the NHL Offensive Player of the Month for October...Toronto captain Mats Sundin, who has been out for the last 11 games with an eye injury, could return on Saturday when the Leafs play Tampa Bay...The Hurricanes finished 2-for-7 on the power play, while the Leafs were scoreless on six chances with the extra skater.
11/04 00:16:09 ET