The Toronto Maple Leafs were ‘outted’ at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina by the local Hurricanes Wednesday evening. Out hit, out shot, out worked and out scored, the visiting Toronto side were on their heels from the opening face off giving up a season high 29 shots in the first period. The Canes noted for not being shy directing shots at the net then managed only 2 in the second but picked up in the third for a total of 45 on the night. If not for the once again brilliant play of former Canes 7th round pick Frederik Anderson this would have been put away in the opening frame.
Sloppy play in their own zone (which doesn’t usually end well) opened the door (or net in this case) for Trevor Van Riemsdyk to pounce on a loose puck in front of the helpless Anderson, notching his first of the year. Justin Williams put the swarming home side up a couple less than a minute later before the one miscue by the Canes in the first 20-minutes gave Leafs sniper John Tavares a free shot at ex-Leafs netminder Curtis McElhinney to cut the lead to one.
That’s as close as the Leafs would get, although they made it interesting in the third after the Canes Michael Ferland put them up two, the steady Kasperi Kapanen cut the lead to one again on a terrific individual rush.
The Leafs put up a furious late charge but have to be a 60-minute team and paid the consequences when the Canes added two empty netters to close it out.
The Leafs could never get untracked from the opening puck drop; passes in skates, the stretch pass was missing or broken up, the power play was ineffective and didn’t produce any real opportunities and ex-team mate McElhinney made enough saves to secure the victory and first star status for himself.
Not a terrible loss but is there ever a good one? The message for the skilled Toronto side is, teams will not roll over for them and if anything will ‘up’ their games and the charged up Canes were proof of that last night.
The good news is star forward Auston Matthews is recovering nicely and watching him in practice yesterday he’s due back anytime. His presence will definitely be a bonus for Toronto and a burden for the rest of the league but they better be on guard in Columbus Friday night; the Blue Jackets will be looking for revenge after letting one slip away in Toronto earlier in the week.