NHL Game Summary - Toronto at Carolina
(Friday, December 15th)
Final Score: Toronto 4, Carolina 3
Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - Mats Sundin had two goals and added an assist, and Bryan McCabe also had a three-point night, leading Toronto to a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center.
Alex Steen netted the game winner with six minutes left in the third period and Andrew Raycroft stopped 29 shots between the pipes for the Maple Leafs, who gave head coach Paul Maurice a win in his return to Raleigh, three years to the day he was fired as Carolina's head coach. Maurice is in his first season behind the Maple Leafs' bench. He coached the Hurricanes' franchise for more than eight seasons and moved with the team after it relocated from Hartford, leading them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002.
To add to the reunion, the Leafs also brought Hurricanes' all-time leading goal scorer Jeff O'Neill and perennial fan favorite Bates Battaglia back to Raleigh. O'Neill had just one shot on goal in the contest, while Battaglia served four minutes for two minor infractions.
McCabe had a goal and two assists for the Leafs, who have won two in row following a seven-game slide.
Erik Cole, Justin Williams and Mike Commodore scored for the Hurricanes, who have lost five straight games for the first time since closing the 2002-03 season with six consecutive losses March 26-April 6. Cam Ward made 21 saves in a losing effort.
The Hurricanes were once again without leading scorer Rod Brind'Amour, who missed his third straight game with a sore groin. Brind'Amour has 36 points (10G, 26A) on the season. Also missing was left winger Andrew Ladd, who underwent an emergency appendectomy Thursday at Raleigh's Rex Hospital and is out indefinitely.
Trailing 3-1 and on a two-man advantage in the third, Carolina cut the deficit in half at 6:03. Camped just off the doorstep, Williams took a cross-ice feed, quickly switched from the backhand to the forehand, and still had time to beat a diving Raycroft.
Carolina tied it on the power play nearly five minutes later. After McCabe's shot rang off the post at the other end, the Canes went 3-on-3 the other way. Scott Walker corralled the puck, skated in on net and poked the disc at Raycroft. Commodore then slid in off the point and rifled the rebound into back of the net with 9:02 to play.
In an attempt to stall Carolina's momentum, Toronto dumped the puck in the offensive zone and peppered the net, as Steen missed on a slapshot before Ian White had consecutive opportunities, sending one wide of the net before his second attempt was blocked. McCabe grabbed the loose disc and dished to Tomas Kaberle, before Steen took a feed and finally beat Ward top shelf to put the Maple Leafs back on top, 4-3.
Cole was whistled for interference with 42 ticks left, putting Carolina a man down to close out the contest.
The game featured 16 penalties, all minors. Toronto finished 2-for-7 on the power play, while Carolina ended 1-for-7. The 'Canes penalty kill has given up nine goals on 21 attempts in the past three games
With eight minutes remaining in the opening period, Carolina's Bret Hedican was hit in front of the Toronto goal and appeared to injured. The Leafs came back up the ice on a 3- on-1 breakaway, but the referee blew the play dead because Hedican wasn't moving. After the whistle the defenseman got up and skated to the bench under his own power, drawing protests from the Toronto bench.
Shortly after, John Pohl was awarded a penalty shot but missed the net with a high wrister that deflected off Ward's glove.
Cole's speed put the Canes up 1-0 with four minutes left in the period. Skating in alone, Cole skidded to a stop in front of the net, switched to the backhand, then slipped the puck through the five-hole.
Sundin tied things up just over two minutes later. The center came charging through the neutral zone, collected a pass from Kyle Wellwood at the blue line and charged in on net, besting Raycroft with a wrist shot to make it 1-1 and cap a frenzied first period.
With Toronto on a 5-on-3 advantage, Sundin netted his second tally of the game at 11:57 in the second period, banging home a shot from just off the right side of the crease.
Carolina had a goal disallowed with just over five minutes remaining in the middle stanza, as Cole went sliding into Raycroft and knocked the net off its moorings.
McCabe scored on another two-man advantage at 17:53, ripping a slapshot from the top of the right faceoff circle that zipped past Ward glove- side.
This was Sundin's third-multi goal game of the season. With the effort, he passed Dave Keonin on Toronto's all-time points list with 859...Justin Williams has six goals and five assists in his last eight home games... Maurice ranks first in Hurricanes' franchise history in wins (268), games coached (674), playoff wins (17) and playoff games coached (35)...The defending Stanley Cup champions went 2-1-1 against Toronto last season... Carolina will visit Tampa Bay on Saturday, while the Leafs host the New York Rangers.
12/15 23:08:50 ET