Leafs fall to ’Canes
RALEIGH, N.C.—Hurricanes’ coach Kirk Muller wasn’t sure how his team would respond after Tuesday’s game at Buffalo was postponed by a blizzard.
But with the way Carolina is playing right now, it is going to take more than a change in plans to throw off their rhythm.
It was Carolina’s fifth-straight win.
“That game cancelled in Buffalo gave us an extra day or two of rest,” noted Muller.
“I think it really helped us,” he added. “We had fresh legs and everyone contributing.”
John-Michael Liles, Patrick Dwyer, Zach Boychuk, and Elias Lindholm also scored for the Hurricanes.
Liles was playing against his former team for the first time—Carolina sent defenceman Tim Gleason to Toronto for Liles on Jan. 1.
“It’s just nice to be wanted and to feel like I have a place,” Liles said. “It allows me to be confident and play my game.
“I think we have a great group of guys on the team—they’ve welcomed me and it’s been a nice fit so far.”
Skinner’s goal was his 17th in his last 17 games and he improved his point streak to a career-high six games, with seven goals and five assists over that stretch.
Lindholm, meanwhile, had three points in his first game back with Carolina after playing for Sweden in the World Junior Championship.
Anton Khudobin made 25 saves for the Hurricanes to improve his record to 6-0-0.
Khudobin missed more than two months earlier this season with an ankle injury.
“This game was, by far, the easiest game,” he said.
Joffrey Lupul scored for the Maple Leafs, with James Reimer making 30 saves in the loss.
Toronto now has lost three-straight by a combined score of 18-5 after defeating Detroit in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day.
“We are standing still,” said Leafs’ coach Randy Carlyle. “We are watching teams skate.
“We are not engaged in the hockey game at the level that is required to give ourselves a chance at success,” he stressed.
Boychuk opened the scoring 2:33 in, when his backhand shot deflected off the stick of Gleason and beat Reimer.
It was Boychuk’s first goal of the year.
The Hurricanes made it 2-0 exactly six minutes later following a long stretch of sustained pressure on the power play.
The puck eventually got to Lindholm, who set up Staal for a one-timer in the slot.
Reimer stopped that shot but Skinner cleaned up the rebound.
Following lopsided losses to the N.Y. Rangers and N.Y. Islanders in its previous two games, Toronto appeared lethargic for much of the night.
But the Leafs did manage to close the deficit to 2-1 a little less than six minutes after Skinner’s goal.
Mason Raymond won the puck on the forecheck behind the Hurricanes net and centred to Lupul, who scored from the top of the crease.
Carolina reclaimed its two-goal lead with 2:27 left in the first period on Dwyer’s goal.
After another long stretch of offensive zone pressure, Dwyer scored when his wrist shot through traffic went through Reimer’s legs.
“You’ve just got to find a way to make a save there to keep your team in it,” Reimer noted.
The Hurricanes then made it 4-1 early in the second when Liles scored on a snapshot on a 3-on-1 break.
It was the first goal for the defenceman since he was traded to Carolina.
Staal added a short-handed goal 25 seconds into the third period before Lindholm finished the scoring with a 5-on-3 goal in the final 70 seconds.
Elsewhere in the NHL, St. Louis dumped Calgary 5-0, Minnesota beat Phoenix 4-1, Anaheim nipped Nashville 4-3, and Florida edged Buffalo 2-1 (SO).
New Jersey blanked Dallas 1-0, Washington topped Tampa Bay 4-3, L.A. doubled Boston 4-2, and San Jose beat Detroit 4-1.