Leafs continue home woes
TORONTO—The Air Canada Centre has not been kind to the Toronto Maple Leafs early in the NHL season.
Following last night’s spirited first period, in which the Leafs played some of their best hockey on home ice of the young campaign, things came unglued in the second as Jordan Staal scored his first with the Hurricanes and his brother, Eric, added the winner in Carolina’s 4-1 victory.
“We can play for stretches in this building but it seems that when it starts to go the other way on us, we don’t seem to be able to pick ourselves back up and say, ‘Hey, stop it. This is what we’ve got to do to correct it,’” said Leafs’ coach Randy Carlyle.
“The turnovers are the most disturbing thing for me,” he added.
“As a coach you want to limit those turnovers, and those are the most disturbing things.”
Trailing 1-0 after the first, the Hurricanes tied it just 1:21 into the second.
After Jeff Skinner beat out an icing call, Patrick Dwyer fed an unmarked Jordan Staal in front for his first goal with the Hurricanes since coming over in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins at June’s NHL draft.
Staal also picked up an assist on Dwyer’s third-period goal.
“It was nice to get a goal to get us going,” he remarked.
“As a Hurricane, it was nice to get that first one and hopefully many more after that.”
Eric Staal hit the post a few minutes later as the Hurricanes rebounded from a sluggish opening 20 minutes to grab momentum with the first nine shots of the second period.
The Hurricanes’ captain had better luck with his next chance to give Carolina (4-4-0) the lead with his seventh of the season at 10:21 on the power play.
With Toronto’s Jay McClement in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct after giving goalie Cam Ward a snowshower, Staal walked out from the corner and saw his cross-crease pass deflect in off Leafs’ defenceman Mike Kostka.
“The first couple shifts of the second period, we turned the puck over at the offensive blueline and it started to deteriorate then, and we started to play a lot more in the defensive zone,” noted Carlyle.
“On face-offs, we didn’t do a very good job of blocking out to retrieve pucks and we let them jump through a few times.
“The momentum went in their favour and then we got ourselves behind the 8-ball with maybe focusing on some of the things that were going on in the game other than how we were playing and how we needed to play to be effective,” he stressed.
Dwyer, with a goal and an assist, and Justin Faulk also scored for Carolina, which got 41 saves from Ward.
Skinner added three assists.
Matt Frattin netted the lone goal for Toronto, with James Reimer making 35 stops in defeat.
Reimer was at a loss as to why the Leafs have struggled on home ice—a troubling trend that dates back to last season.
“You want to win at home. You come home and this is the place you want to win,” he noted.
“I’m not quite sure what the reason is and I don’t know if anybody does have the reason.
“It’s the million-dollar question and we don’t like it,” Reimer added. “We don’t like it one bit.
“This is where we want to win.”
One of the big differences on the night was the power play. Carolina finished 2-for-4 while Toronto wound up 0-for-5.
Down 2-1, the Leafs thought they had tied the score with 1:16 left in the second when Kostka’s shot from the point deflected in off Tyler Bozak.
But after video review, officials ruled the Toronto centre had kicked the puck past Ward.
“I don’t think I kicked it,” Bozak said. “Tough call [but] there’s nothing we can do now.
“We have to fight through adversity and things like that,” he stressed.
“Unfortunately it didn’t go our way.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, Vancouver beat Edmonton 3-2 (OT), Phoenix edged Minnesota 2-1, Dallas shaded Colorado 3-2, and Anaheim nipped San Jose 2-1.