Hurricanes annihilate Maple Leafs
Four power-play goals proved too much for the Toronto Maple Leafs to overcome Tuesday night.
Matt Cullen, Cory Stillman and Justin Williams had one goal and two assists apiece as the visiting Carolina Hurricanes rolled to a convincing 7-1 victory over the Maple Leafs before a spillover crowd of 19,224 at the Air Canada Centre.
"Our top three lines are as potent as any in the league," Williams said. "We're hoping this win will be a springboard to more offensive production."
Eric Staal, Scott Walker and Ray Whitney each contributed one goal and one assist as the Hurricanes (2-1-1) went 4-for-8 with the man advantage.
Jeff Hamilton scored the other goal, Rod Brind'Amour had two assists, and Cam Ward turned aside 27 of 28 shots.
"Guys were dragging through [last] season," Stillman said. "But now, we're excited to be back.
"We're a stronger team. Everybody is healthy and ready to play."
Vesa Toskala finished with 32 saves for the Maple Leafs (1-2-1).
"We didn't play our best," he said. "Not even close."
"It was a terrible game," Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin lamented. "Everyone was flat.
"It was a flat effort by the whole group and that's it. Really, there's no excuses to have an effort like that.
"It's not like we're in the middle of a tough schedule. We just weren't good and that's the bottom line."
Sundin notched an assist on Bryan McCabe's power-play goal 4:21 into the contest, tying him with Hall of Famer Darryl Sittler for most points in a Maple Leafs sweater with 916.
Sittler and Sundin also share the franchise record of 389 goals scored.
"He is one of the best in the league, top-three for sure," Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle said of Sundin.
As expected, Jason Blake skated a regular shift on Sundin's flank.
Blake, signed July 1 for $20 million US over five years, revealed Monday that he has chronic myelogenous leukemia, a rare yet highly treatable form of cancer that likely won't jeopardize his career.
"There was two weeks there, I kind of knew," he said. "But there was still a little uncertainty.
"Now that I know, now that obviously everyone knows, I think there is a little bit of a weight lifted. I haven't been myself, just for the fact of what's been going on.
"Now that I know everything is going to be fine, I can move on. So yeah, I'm ready to go."
7 unanswered goals
After McCabe staked Toronto to a 1-0 lead with his first goal of the season, Williams ripped a wrist shot over Toskala's left shoulder to even proceedings 6:46 into the first period.
It remained 1-1 until Nik Antropov was penalized for a high stick on Stillman, who capitalized on the ensuing power play with 24 seconds left in the period.
Whitney's initial slapshot from the point was stopped, but Stillman swatted the rebound off a twirling Toskala for his first.
The Hurricanes went ahead 3-1 when Brind'Amour slid a pass into the slot for Stillman, whose shot was deflected by Cullen for a power-play goal 11:41 into the second period.
Cullen then sprung Whitney in alone and he fooled Toskala between the pads to make it 4-1 with 2:37 left.
Walker scored 95 seconds into the third period, potting an easy rebound after Erik Cole's wrist shot struck two Maple Leafs — Matt Stajan and Hal Gill — en route to the net.
Hamilton netted a power-play goal on a rising slapshot at the 5:07 mark, and Staal stuffed the puck in the short side for his fourth exactly nine minutes later.
With files from the Canadian Press