Staal brothers lead Hurricanes over Leafs

Hurricanes scorers: Malone (3) Lindholm (9), E. Staal (15)
Leafs scorers: Kadri (12)
Goalies: Khudobin (Win), 59:39 minutes played, 34 saves, 1 GA, Bernier (Loss), 20:42 minutes played, 10 saves, 3 GA

Fresh off a road trip that saw them score just once over the course of four games, the Toronto Maple Leafs were hoping that returning home to the ACC for a game against the Carolina Hurricanes would somehow change their luck and help them restart their offensive play.

Although the Leafs weren’t being dominated in the opening minutes of the first period, they got off to a rough start when they found themselves shorthanded just five minutes into the period. As the penalty expired, Brad Malone fired a puck passed Bernier to give his team the 1-0 lead. The early goal seemed to spark the Leafs energy and they were working hard in the Hurricanes zone, but as the period passed the halfway mark, Elias Lindholm put his team up by two.

Things were going from bad to worse for the Leafs when the Hurricanes held a commanding 3-0 lead just minutes later, but the goal was waved off after the referee ruled that Jonathan Bernier was interfered with and the game remained 2-0.

Any hopes the Leafs had to hop out to a strong start to the second were quickly dashed when Eric Staal scored less than a minute into the period with an assist from his brother, Jordan. James Reimer then skated into the game to replace Jonathan Bernier. The Leafs seemed confused and lacking in confidence throughout most of the second and Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin was determined to not let anything past him, helping his team hold on to a 3-0 lead heading into the third.

It was clear that the frustration was only mounting for the Leafs as the final period got underway with Dion Phaneuf and Eric Staal dropping the gloves after the two had come close to fighting at different times throughout the game. The Leafs were desperately trying to somehow get on the board but weren’t coming close until Nazem Kadri scored a power play goal with six minutes remaining. As the final minutes would down, Reimer came off the ice for the extra attacker but Eric Staal easily scored his second of the evening assisted again by Jordan, giving his team a 4-1 win.

Phil Kessel spoke to the media after the game about not getting discouraged by his team’s slump and their lack of offence. “You’ve got to always stay positive in this game, things change quick. You go on streaks, we had a winning streak earlier just like this losing streak and we’ve got to get one here, we’ve got to win a game.”

The Leafs will head to Ottawa for a matchup against the Senators on Wednesday evening.

(Kadri photo credit: http://blog.icewarehouse.com)