The Carolina Hurricanes were welcomed home to a sell-out crowd on Valentine’s night in their game against Toronto. It was the second of three match-ups this season, this coming ten days after the Hurricanes beat up on the Leafs in the Air Canada Center. That game marked a turning point for both clubs, as they each picked up much needed points in their next four games. A long known hockey adage is that a team often becomes sluggish after a long road trip. They get home, relax a little, and often do not play well. But after a scoreless first period, the Hurricanes got second period goals from Joe Corvo, Jordan Staal and Jussi Jokinen and took over the game.
“That’s a common trend (and) the coaches did a really good job of addressing that in our meetings,” said ‘Canes goalie Dan Ellis, who got the start and earned his third win. “They constantly made us aware that, ‘Guys, it’s almost like an extra road game. Let’s approach it with the mentality you want to finish the road trip strong, even though you’re at home.’
“That’s what we did. We gave a good push and got a good win against a hot team.”
Hurricanes forward Kevin Westgarth helped ensure the team did not get off to that sluggish start. Barely two minutes into the opening period Wesgarth dropped gloves with Colton Orr. These two established fighters celebrated this night of love by trying to knock each other unconscious. The bout sent the message to the Leafs that was intended, there would be no let-down in Raleigh tonight.
The scoring got started at the six minute mark of the second when Eric Staal got the puck tied up in front of the Toronto goal. Toronto captain, Dion Phaneuf, attempted to clear but was unable to get the puck past Joe Corvo, who snapped it over the left shoulder of Ben Scrivens. Toronto was able to answer on the power play. With Bobby Sanguinetti in the box for interference, Dion Phaneuf sent a shot off Jamie McBain, of Carolina, and teammate Nazem Kadri to get one past Dan Ellis. The puck changed direction twice and Ellis had no chance to make the save.
The ultimate game winner came on the power play. The Hurricanes came up the ice as a group and Jussi Jokinen found a rebound and deposited behind Ben Scrivens. Jordan Staal put the Canes up two with his second goal of the season, both coming at the expense of Maple Leaf goalies. Jaimie McBain stole the puck and sent it ahead to a charging Jeff Skinner. Scrivens was unable to cleanly field the shot by Skinner and a Charging Jordan Staal was in the right place at the right time for the rebound.
Carolina now gets a much needed few days off before heading north of the border to to take on the Canadiens on Monday.
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