The Carolina Hurricanes played to win at the drop of the puck to the end of the game tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs, winning 6-1. Jordan Staal had four points, Elias Lindholm three and Jeff Skinner and Zach Boychuk two.
Zach Boychuk got his first goal of the season and first since a Nashville Predator two and a half minutes into the game. Brett Sutter shot the puck, but was blocked by Tim Gleason‘s skate, which ricocheted to Boychuk, who picked it up on his backhand and shot it over James Reimer.
Six minutes later, Jeff Skinner scored his 21st of the season on the power-play. Again it was on a rebound as the 21-year-old shot a Jordan Staal rebound past Reimer.
Joffrey Lupul brought the Leafs within one as he scored in the slot on a feed from Mason Raymond behind the net. The Hurricanes had a severe defensive lapse on the play, allowing Lupul to get open in front of the net.
The Maple Leafs started to take over the period from there, but Patrick Dwyer put a stop to it when he snapped a shot past Reimer on a scrum in front with 2:27 left in the first period.
In the second period, John-Michael Liles scored against his former team on a 3-on-1 with Boychuk and Sutter. Boychuk fed Liles the pass and the defenseman shot stick side on Reimer.
Jordan Staal scored the Hurricanes’ league-leading eighth shorthanded goal of the year at the start of the third period. He stole the puck from Dion Phaneuf at the blue line then shot over Reimer’s right shoulder to give the Canes a 5-1 lead.
Elias Lindholm scored the final goal of the game on a 5-on-3 power-play when he put in a Jeff Skinner rebound from behind the boards into an open net.
The Hurricanes did exactly what they had to do to win this game. They outworked the Maple Leafs, scored timely goals and possessed the puck for most of the game.
The players also knew how to beat James Reimer. It’s possible John-Michael Liles offered some suggestions to the team because the Hurricanes beat him by moving the puck, one of Reimer’s weaknesses. Liles also knew exactly what to do when he scored his goal.
But it wasn’t just how they scored, it was also when the Hurricanes scored. They had two power-play goals and Patrick Dwyer’s goal at the end of the first period couldn’t have come at a better time as the Maple Leafs were gaining momentum and controlling the play.
Despite the two extra-man goals, the Canes did have some problems on the power-play, as has been the case all season.
Jordan Staal, Elias Lindholm and Anton Khudobin all had strong games shown by their stats. Zach Boychuk easily had his best game of his short season with the Hurricanes.
This was a tough game for the Maple Leafs and it’s understandable that frustration would overcome them towards the end of the game. Anytime the team seemed to take control of the game, the Hurricanes would score and completely end it.
But some Canes need to learn to not fight back. Justin Faulk got in a fight with Joffrey Lupul, which could have ended badly had he been injured.
Zach Boychuk took the better approach in just letting Dion Phaneuf act like a Bantam player when the Maple Leaf punched Boychuk after a whistle late in the third period.
This was one of the Hurricanes’ best games. Having a game tomorrow should only help them continue the hot streak of the winning streak.