RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes couldn’t seem to score lately on the power play – or, for that matter, in any other situation, and things didn’t seem promising with another key scoring threat out.
Because enough players picked up the slack, they wound up matching their highest-scoring game of the season.
Tuomo Ruutu had a goal and an assist, and Carolina scored three times in less than four minutes during the second period of its 6-4 victory over the Maple Leafs on Sunday night.
Dwight Helminen, Chad LaRose and Ray Whitney each had a goal and an assist, Joe Corvo also scored and Eric Staal added an empty-netter for Carolina, which scored four goals in the second period to rally from a 3-1 deficit.
“Once we got (the first goal), it didn’t seem like we were going to stop until the game was ours,” LaRose said.
Mikhail Grabovski scored two goals less than four minutes apart, Niklas Hagman had a goal and an assist, Ian White also scored and Nikolai Kulemin had two assists for the Maple Leafs, who entered having won four of five.
“We’re in every game. We’re one shot away or one save away,” said backup goalie Curtis Joseph, winless in three outings this season.
Backup Michael Leighton made 29 saves in his first home victory for the Hurricanes. Joseph struggled in net for Toronto, stopping just 18 of the final 23 shots he faced and finishing with 24 saves.
Corvo, Whitney and Staal scored on the power play for once-offensively challenged Carolina – which entered as the league’s third-worst team with the man advantage, had four goals of any kind in their previous three games and was without centre Matt Cullen, who injured his leg the day before in a 3-1 loss to Edmonton.
So naturally, the Hurricanes scored three times in six chances with the man advantage and equalled their best offensive output of the season – a 6-4 victory over Florida on Oct. 10 in the opener.
“I don’t think we were too happy” falling behind 3-1, Ruutu said. “I don’t think we were too happy after (Saturday’s) game. I think we were way, way too flat, and that’s the way we played in the first period as well. Sometimes it’s tough. You’ve got to start the game well, but we were lucky enough to get back into the game.”
Ruutu gave the Hurricanes their first lead with 29.8 seconds left in the second, when he skated out from behind the net and snapped the puck high and past Joseph’s short side to make it 4-3.
That came after Whitney made it a one-goal game with 3:50 left with a wrist shot from close range, and Helmonen tied it 1:07 later by lofting the puck over Joseph for his first NHL goal.
“We actually started to create some things,” Whitney said. “We weren’t just standing around, and I think that was our attitude adjustment.”
Grabovski seemed to have put Toronto in control midway through the second with two goals in a 3:57 span.
His wrist shot that clicked off defenceman Anton Babchuk’s skate made it 2-1, and he pushed the lead to 3-1 when he gathered the rebound of Kulemin’s hard shot off Leighton’s pads and whipped it past the goalie’s glove side.
But that was it for Toronto’s offence, until midway through the third when Hagman cut it to 5-4.
“It was the second period that lost us the game, I guess,” Joseph said.
Notes: Whitney scored for the second straight game. … RW Patrick Dwyer made his NHL debut for the Hurricanes. He was recalled earlier in the day from Albany to replace C Matt Cullen (leg). … Toronto C Matt Stajan’s five-game points streak was snapped. … Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette moved within one victory of matching John Tortorella (239) for the most wins by an American-born coach.