Cam Ward earned his 21st career shutout, passing Arturs Irbe for first all time in shutouts in Hurricanes’ franchise history as he stopped 30 shots to officially eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs from playoff contention. Jussi Jokinen (12), Tim Brent (12) and Jay Harrison (9) scored for Carolina. Jonas Gustavsson, who started for the Leafs after James Reimer had a sudden injury before the game, was pulled early in the second period after giving up his third goal on his 12th shot. Jussi Rynnas was called up on an emergency basis from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL to replace the injured Reimer, but was quickly thrown into game action in relief of Gustavsson. The Canes came out to a pretty quick pace as the Leafs looked flat for most of the first period, outshooting Toronto 11-5 in the first period. Jussi Jokinen notched his 12th of the season after he received a pass from Tuomo Ruutu and took a backhanded shot which deflected off of a Leafs’ stick and past Gustavsson to make it 1-0 Canes at 13:05. It was a few minutes later that Tim Brent (former Leaf) took a pass from Derek Joslin and wristed a beautiful shot that hit the camera behind the Leafs’ net minder to make it 2-0 Canes at 18:17. Joslin, who received the primary assist on the play, recorded his first assist since being moved to forward. Carolina would head to the first intermission up 2-0.
The Hurricanes came out storming (pun intended) in the second period, as Jay Harrison (another former Leaf) received a cross-ice pass from Tuomo Ruutu and snapped one past Gustavsson to make it 3-0 Canes at 0:37. That would be it for the Swedish net minder, as he was replaced by his Finnish counterpart Jussi Rynnas. Cam Ward and Rynnas would both be strong down the stretch, especially Ward, who stopped 12 and 13 shots in the second and third periods, respectively. Carolina’s defense would hold strong in the latter part of the game as the Leafs tried to get back into it, but the Canes had a total of 15 blocked shots in the game, 5 by Bryan Allen and 4 by Joni Pitkanen. Carolina would stay in their defensive-minded plan in the third period, as they got outshot 13-4 in the final frame, but Ward was up to the task and earned the shutout.
- Kirk Muller utilized a balanced, four-line approach all night. Not one Hurricanes player was under 10 minutes of ice time. Joslin had the lowest at 10:43.
- Drayson Bowman and Jay Harrison lead the way with 4 shots each for the Canes. The team had 22 total.
- Tuomo Ruutu is probably out of the coach’s dog house by now, as he recorded two assists, was a +2 and had 4 hits in 16:35 of ice time.
- Canes’ players who had once played with the Leafs organization had a big night: 2 goals, +4, 6 shots on goal.
The Canes return to the PNC Arena on Friday night to begin the first of a back-to-back with the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night and the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. Make sure to check back in this weekend for our game previews and recaps! Until then, check us out on Facebook at CardiacCane. Also, be sure to follow Cardiac Cane writers at: @CardiacCaneFS, @Esbee92, @peacelovepuck, @caniaccaz and @caniac176