A bit delayed, but here is our sports correspondent’s report on the first time the Leafs were in town. Enjoy!
It was an exciting American Thanksgiving Eve at PNC Arena as the Carolina Hurricanes took on the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time this season. Curtis McElhinney started in net against his old team, his 7th start this season, a feat for a team that has three goalies in rotation. He earned the first star of the game for his impressive performance between the pipes.
The Hurricanes came out with the ammunition making a whopping twenty-nine shots on goal, a record for shots in the first period. They scored on two of their many opportunities, the first being a disputed play. Coach Mike Babcock called for a review for goalie interference on Trevor Van Reimsdyk’s backhanded goal, claiming Frederick Andersen was denied a viable chance to stop the shot after having his blocker knocked off his hand. The offending play occurred well outside the crease, the call on the ice stayed true and the Hurricanes got the lead. The barrage on Andersen continued and twenty-two seconds later Justin Williams scored his 100th Goal as a Carolina Hurricane off a centering pass from Calvin de Haan.
Late in the first, Toronto’s top goal scorer, John Tavares, a sentence that I am still getting used to saying, fired a shot straight past McElhinney’s blocker, pocketing his 14th goal and closing out the first twenty minutes 2-1 for the Hurricanes.
The Leafs held the Hurricanes to just three shots on net in the second period, all of which were made in the last three minutes of play. Taking the opportunity to stage a comeback, Toronto made plenty of solid chances, all of which were turned aside by phenomenal goaltending on the part of McElhinney. Toronto has one of the most terrifying powerplays in the league, but nobody told Carolina that; the Leafs were held scoreless on two powerplay opportunities.
The Hurricanes scored a beautiful powerplay goal at 12:15 in the third. Teuvo Teravainen kept the puck in the zone after a shot by Sebastian Aho broke his stick. The play was 4 on 4 as Aho skated back to the bench to grab a new one, but the pass from Teravainen to Michael Ferland found its mark and Carolina’s top scorer, Ferland, fired it before Andersen could get back in position.
Everybody can appreciate goals where Kasperi Kapanen proves he is no mere mortal. A pass from Brown connected and the puck was in the net before the Carolina defense could even think of recovering. Unfortunately for Toronto, Kappy’s goal was not enough to get them the momentum they needed to win and the Hurricanes pocketed two empty net goals to make the final score 5-2.
The Hurricanes play the Maple Leafs again tonight in what should be a great rematch with Michael Ferland back from a concussion and Auston Matthews and William Nylander back in the lineup for Toronto. I can’t wait to see everyone out there.