Leafs 4 v. Hurricanes 1: Great Success!
Coach Paul 'Space Cowboy' Maurice could not have asked for a better birthday present as he celebrated his 40th in the rink where he had his greatest success. Andrew Raycroft stopped 28 of 29 shots including a first period penalty show and Nik Antropov used his quick hands and long reach to pot two goals in the third to break a 1-1 deadlock.
Bates Battaglia opened the scoring with his eighth of the year as he corralled a loose puck at the side of the net and slid it into a yawning cage. Ray Whitney tied the game on a breakaway that trickled in off both of Razor's pads. That would be the only time he was beat as he turned away everything that the Hurricanes could throw at him including a 17 save second period.
The Leafs successfully repeated the habits that helped them handle the Canadiens on Saturday night. The Hurricanes have a lot more skill and size than the Habs but the Leafs and especially their defence were able to handle the likes of Staal and Justin Williams, Cobourg's greatest export since Steve Smith (yes, that one). The forwards were at their forechecking and cycling best as the were able to neutralize the opposing D's ability to make a good first pass. The third goal by Antro actually came as a result of three consecutive shifts that hemmed the Canes in their own zone. The other half of The Soviet Bloc did not want to be left out of the limelight so Ponikarovsky dropped the mitts with David Tanabe in a pretty even matchup after the Leaf had a knee-on-knee collision with Brind'Amour. I did not get a good look at the hit but it looked like Rod was trying to get off the trolley tracks and did not quite make it.
Tomorrow night the Leafs travel to the Big Apple to take on the New York Rangers. They are currently tied on points with the Rangers having played one fewer game and possessing one more win [the first tie-breaker]. The last time these two teams met was the infamous 9-2 shellacking in TO that the boys in blue meted out to their guests. The Leafs have had trouble in NYC over the past few seasons so they will have to bring the same effort that has led to back-to-back 4-1 wins.