NHL Game Summary - Toronto at Carolina
(Tuesday, December 18th)
Final Score: Carolina 3, Toronto 2 (OT)
Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - Cory Stillman started Carolina's incredible late rally with his 17th goal of the season, then made the key play on the tying goal shortly before Eric Staal's game-winner in overtime, as the Carolina Hurricanes erased a 58-plus minute shutout and rallied for an unlikely 3-2 win over Toronto at RBC Center.
Stillman, who suffered a leg injury in Saturday's game at Philadelphia, did not appear to have any lingering effects and sparked a rally that saw the Hurricanes come back from a two-goal deficit inside the final two minutes of regulation.
Ray Whitney also scored for the Hurricanes, who have won two straight after a three-game skid. John Grahame made 34 saves in the win.
Tomas Kaberle notched a goal and an assist for the Maple Leafs, who earned at least one point for the seventh time in their last nine games overall (6-2-1).
Vesa Toskala stopped all 17 shots he faced through the first two periods and was on his way to a shutout, but ended up with 36 saves in a crushing loss.
"It will be tough to bounce back, but we will," said Toronto coach Paul Maurice.
Trailing 2-0 with less than two minutes to play in regulation, the Hurricanes woke up after a sluggish performance and scored twice within a minute.
Stillman's goal at 18:35 cut the Carolina deficit in half. Matt Cullen and Justin Williams provided strong forechecking deep in the offensive zone and gained possession of the puck along the rear boards before the disc made its way back to Frantisek Kaberle at the left point. Kaberle's shot was saved, but Stillman easily deposited the long rebound into the back of the cage from the low slot.
"The one that got us going was just a simple shot to the point and Stillman was in front for the rebound," said Carolina head coach Peter Laviolette. "We were able to get some life, the bench gets life, it's 2-1, the building comes alive and all of a sudden there's energy out there."
Shortly after, with the Canes still down 2-1, Grahame was pulled in favor of an extra attacker. Toronto, though, gained possession in the neutral zone and Alexei Ponikarovsky had plenty of time to fire the puck into the open net from the blue line.
Stillman, from behind, lifted Ponikarovsky's stick, stole the puck and raced the other way. A pass to Erik Cole followed before Cole, from the right half- wall, passed across the slot and through heavy traffic for a successful one- timer by Whitney from inside the left circle as the home crowd erupted.
"You've got to put the puck in the net or put it in deep," said a disappointed Maurice. "There's no other play needed to be made at that point. You've got to sense the urgency of the back-pressure and get the puck in deep."
In overtime, the Maple Leafs drew two penalties that paved the way for a rare 5-on-3 in the extra session. The first penalty, a tripping minor called on Ponikarovsky, was killed off, but the Canes completed the amazing comeback before the end of Nik Antropov's hooking infraction. From the center point, Staal held control and released a blazing slap shot that beat Toskala 4:27 into the extra frame.
The Maple Leafs opened the scoring in the latter stages of the first period on Boyd Devereaux's sixth goal of the season. The puck was held by Chad Kilger inside the lower left circle and he passed across the slot for Kaberle, who joined the rush and, after a deke move, tried to beat Grahame from a sharp angle near the goal line to the right of the net.
The puck clanked off the right post and caromed directly out to Devereaux, who easily lit the lamp on a rebound one-timer with 2:10 remaining.
After they produced a healthy 13 shots on goal in the first period, the Hurricanes fell asleep offensively in the second and mustered only four shots. Carolina failed on its only power-play chance of the stanza -- awarded courtesy of a hooking minor on Andy Wozniewski -- and the Leafs played strong defensive hockey until Kaberle gave the visitors a two-goal edge with a power- play tally near the end of the stanza.
The puck was dumped into the Leafs' offensive zone and a strong forecheck by Darcy Tucker along the rear boards squirted the puck loose from Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason. Kaberle gained control and surprised Grahame with a quick backhander that snuck inside the left post at the 18:24 mark.
Carolina defenseman David Tanabe left the game in the second period with a concussion and did not return...'Canes captain Rod Brind'Amour missed the game with the flu -- his next game played will be the 1,300th of his career...The Hurricanes improved to 9-7-1 at home this season...The Leafs will be without veteran defenseman Bryan McCabe for the next two months after he underwent successful surgery on Monday to repair three broken metacarpals in his left hand...Carolina finished 1-for-8 on the power play and the Leafs were 1-for-5 with the extra skater...Attendance was 17,045.
12/18 22:40:06 ET