|TOR||0||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
|CAR||0||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
It has been five weeks since the Carolina Hurricanes posted back-to-back wins. They couldn’t have done it in more dramatic fashion than Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Down 2-0 and having to kill off a penalty in the closing stages of the game, what appeared to be a sure-fire loss turned into a heart-pounding 3-2 overtime victory on the heels of a shootout win at Philadelphia over the weekend.
A dismal December has now turned into a month in which double-digit points is a good possibility.
Cory Stillman, who injured his ankle and knee against the Flyers and was initially earmarked for a week of recovery, returned in 48 hours as the hero, scoring with 1:25 left to get the Canes going, then stripped Alexei Ponikarovsky from behind in the Carolina zone with John Grahame pulled for an extra attacker. Seconds later, Ray Whitney tied it with a rifle shot from a sharp angle to send the home crowd into a frenzy and the game into overtime. .
From that point, it was all Carolina, outshooting the stunned Maple Leafs 8-1 in the extra period as Toronto took two penalties trying to slow down the Canes. After failing on a 5-on-3, Scott Walker tipped in a shot from Eric Staal at the tail end of the power play with 32.8 seconds left in OT for the game winner.
Staal and Stillman each have a team-leading 17 goals while Whitney added his 15th.
“The momentum of a goal turned it around,” Stillman said. “We’ve always said that. When we get excited about scoring goals you can see what happens.”
Stillman said he was determined to play, especially since captain Rod Brind’Amour was sidelined with the flu.
“In my mind I was ready to play, I wanted to play,” said Stillman, who missed the first three games of the season after an auto accident. “We had another guy go out and obviously everybody wants to be the difference in the game.”
The Hurricanes won for the first time in nine tries this season when trailing after the first period.
“We’ve got to give all the credit to the team physicians,” Whitney joked when asked about Stillman’s quick return from injury. “Whenever we can get the crowd here at the RBC Center into it it really gives us a boost. It was pretty loud after Cory scored and when mine went in it was that old feeling again. We’ve got to get the crowd into it a little earlier next time.”
Vesa Toskala was 0-3 in his career against Carolina, including a 7-1 loss in Toronto on Oct. 9, but appeared to have a shutout all but wrapped up until Stillman ignited the RBC Center crowd and his teammates with his rebound goal from the slot.
“The one that got us on the board was just a simple shot from the point and Stiller was in front for the rebound,” said coach Peter Laviolette. “We were able to get some life. The bench gets life, the building comes alive and all of the sudden there is energy out there.”
Carolina fell behind by two goals with 1:36 left in the second on what appeared to be a harmless dump in by Toronto on the power play. But Tomas Kaberle checked Trevor Letowski off the puck behind the net and Glen Wesley got over too late to cover for Tim Gleason as Kaberle stuffed the rubber past Grahame, who was making consecutive starts for the first time this season. The Canes have now allowed at least one power-play goal in six of their last seven games.
After a strong start, the Canes mustered just seven shots over a 34-minute stretch entering the third period.
Carolina started with a purpose, outshooting the Maple Leafs 10-1 in the early stages, including five shots and several great scoring chances on the only power-play opportunity less than three minutes in.
The Canes fell behind 1-0 late in the first period after failing on a two-man advantage over 46 seconds, allowing a Toronto breakout after a wild scramble in front of the Maple Leafs’ goal. A shot by Kaberle hit the outside of the right post, but Boyd Devereaux picked up the rebound and lifted it over a sprawled Grahame.
Carolina now travels to Florida and Tampa Bay to close out the week with a good feeling and a secure first-place lead in the Southeast Division.
“If you look at the standings it’s getting tight, so teams who get on a winning streak can get some separation,” Whitney said.
|Boyd Devereaux (6) ASST: Tomas Kaberle (17), Chad Kilger (5)|
1 - 0 TOR
|PPG - Tomas Kaberle (6) ASST: NONE|
2 - 0 TOR
|Cory Stillman (17) ASST: Frantisek Kaberle (7), Justin Williams (21)|
2 - 1 TOR
|Ray Whitney (15) ASST: Erik Cole (15), Cory Stillman (19)|
2 - 2 Tie
|PPG - Scott Walker (4) ASST: Eric Staal (13), Erik Cole (16)|
3 - 2 CAR
|Mark Bell Hooking against Chad LaRose|
|Pavel Kubina Holding against Justin Williams|
|Boyd Devereaux Slashing against Jeff Hamilton|
|Trevor Letowski Hooking against Kyle Wellwood|
|Andy Wozniewski Hooking against Trevor Letowski|
|Scott Walker Cross checking against Alexander Steen|
|Scott Walker Hi-sticking against Ian White|
|Wade Belak Tripping against Cory Stillman|
|Matt Cullen Slashing against Andy Wozniewski|
|Andy Wozniewski Holding against Chad LaRose|
|Craig Adams Hi-sticking against Alexander Steen|
|Alexei Ponikarovsky Tripping against Tim Gleason|
|Nik Antropov Hooking against Ray Whitney|
|SA: 38||TOI: 64:27|
|Saves: 35||EV: 25 - 27|
|PIM: 0||PP: 10 - 11|
|SV%: .921||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 36||TOI: 63:39|
|Saves: 34||EV: 25 - 26|
|PIM: 0||PP: 7 - 8|
|SV%: .944||SH: 2 - 2|