Hurricanes defeat Leafs for fifth straight victory

Tom Szczerbowski—USA TODAY Sports
Carolina Hurricanes center Derek Ryan (33) and right wing Lee Stempniak (21) celebrate a goal scored by Jeff Skinner (not pictured) in the first period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Hurricanes won

TORONTO — The Carolina Hurricanes started their streak with four consecutive home wins. Just how well their act plays on the road will determine how long the run will continue.It was just fine Tuesday night when Viktor Stalberg scored a shorthanded goal in the second period to break a tie, and Carolina posted a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs to extend its winning streak to five games.”We played the game we played at home and took it on the road,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said.Jeff Skinner scored a power-play goal for the Hurricanes (8-6-4) in the first period to tie the game. Jake Gardiner’s goal gave the Maple Leafs (8-8-3) a first-period lead. Goaltender Frederik Andersen made 27 saves for Toronto, which lost its second game in a row.The Hurricanes also killed off a tripping penalty to Jay McClement at 14:21 of the third period as the Maple Leafs tried for the tying goal. However, Cam Ward, who stopped 25 shots in the game and was the NHL’s second star for last week, and the Carolina penalty killers were solid.”Once again, we kept our composure and didn’t try to do anything special,” Ward said.Gardiner said, “They were obviously very tired, but they have a great penalty kill and we didn’t get pucks to the net, and that makes it easy on them. I definitely could have shot a couple more, but they also did a good job of blocking. It’s disappointing.”The Hurricanes are adept at negating opposing power plays.”We’ve got guys who take a lot of pride in it,” Peters said. “It’s an organized group, a team within the team.”Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said, “I just thought it was a tight game, exactly like we expected. We knew it would be tight checking, heavy going. They scored on their power play, we didn’t. We gave up a shorthanded goal, so there’s the game right in itself. In saying all that, I thought it was a contested game, there was no room, there were lots of battles. I think these are games we have to get better in and find ways to win.”Gardiner’s slap shot from the left point found its way through a maze of players for his fourth goal of the season, giving Toronto a 1-0 lead at 5:55 of the first period.The Maple Leafs scored the first goal in each of their past four home games.The Hurricanes tied the game on a power play goal by Skinner at 17:21 of the first period with Toronto defenseman Connor Carrick serving a holding penalty. Skinner’s eighth goal of the season came after a jamming session around the Maple Leafs’ net. Derek Ryan and Lee Stempniak picked up assists.”Just try and go there and sometimes it bounces off you,” Skinner said.The Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead at 14:06 of the second period on a shorthanded goal by Stalberg on a breakaway while killing a hooking penalty to McClement. Elias Lindholm blocked a shot to start the breakaway, earning the assist on Stalberg’s third goal of the season.”It doesn’t happen too much,” Stalberg said. “I think we’ve been going a great job on the kill. We’re willing to sacrifice. Anytime you get a shorthanded goal, you’re going to get some momentum.”Babcock said, “Tonight, obviously, special teams got in the way of our success, but I thought little things like goalie touches early — we didn’t execute on them. There were a number of things, so we just build our game and just keep trying to build our game.”The reality is in the tight-checking games, it’s not all skill. You have to put the puck into places, you have to win battles and be determined. We’re learning that as we go that there’s not a lot of space in the National Hockey League on tight-checking nights.”NOTES: Hurricanes reserve G Eddie Lack (concussion) was put on injured reserve after being hurt in practice Monday. G Michael Leighton was recalled from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL to back up G Cam Ward. Leighton ranks fourth in the AHL with a 1.66 goals-against average. … Maple Leafs LW Josh Leivo (lower body) was recalled from a long-term injury conditioning loan with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL and is listed as an injured non-roster player. … Tuesday’s game was the first of three between the teams this season and the only one at Air Canada Centre. The clubs meet again Feb. 19 and March 11 at PNC Arena. … The Hurricanes play the second contest of their three-game trip at Montreal against the Canadiens on Thursday. … The Maple Leafs visit the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday.