Photo courtesy of Reuters
The Toronto Maple Leafs welcomed the Carolina Hurricanes to town on Monday evening. The Leafs were looking to snap their five-game losing-skid and find a way to reignite their seemingly inexistant offense. Entering the game, the Leafs found themselves seven points back of the Boston Bruins for the final wildcard playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Hurricanes forward, Brad Malone opened the scoring with his third goal of the season. Less than a minute later, Maple Leafs forward James Van Reimsdyk turned the puck over at the Carolina blue line giving Elias Lindholm a breakaway. Despite Morgan Reilly’s best efforts to hook Lindholm, the Swedish winger broke loose and poked the puck between the legs of goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The goals came forty-one seconds apart.
The crowd at the Air Canada Centre became restless in the dying minutes of the first period when the Leafs failed to score on three powerplay opportunities. Hurricanes captain, Eric Staal notched his fourteenth of the season less than a minute into the second period; giving the Canes a 3-0 lead.
Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, under heavy scrutiny from fans and management took out his frustration by dropping the gloves against the Hurricanes captain, Eric Staal; early in the third period. The fight seemed to spark some life into the Maple Leafs as forward Nazem Kadri scored his twelfth of the season, ending the teams’ goalless drought at 162 minutes.
The Maple Leafs pulled goaltender James Reimer with just over three minutes left in the game, hoping for some ‘puck luck’. Visibly upset from the physical confrontation with Phaneuf earlier in the period; Canes captain Eric Staal fired a slap shot into the empty net, securing the 4-1 victory.
In total, four Maple Leaf jerseys were thrown on the ice in the loss. Jersey tossing at at the Air Canada Centre is becoming a regular occurance when the Leafs lose at home.
The Maple Leafs hit the road to meet the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday at 7pm.