(Steve Russell, Toronto Star)
The Maple Leafs finally had a team right where they wanted them after tying the Carolina Hurricanes 1-1 late in the first period. Sadly, the tie lasted for 16 seconds, as the Hurricanes came right back and lit Toronto up for a goal of their own.
Since replacing coach Randy Carlyle with Peter Horachek, the Toronto Maple Leafs have gone 2-14-2, but there looked like there was a glimmer of hope against the Carolina Hurricanes – at least for 16 seconds.
With the Maple Leafs down 1-0 after a power play goal by Eric Staal midway through the first period, Brandon Kozun tied Friday’s game 1-1 at the 17:53 mark of the opening frame. Kozun’s goal, the first of his career, stood as the game tying goal for less time than it takes to tie a pair of skates.
Off the faceoff following the Maple Leafs’ goal, the puck ended up back in the Hurricanes’ zone where Staal carried up the right wing boards, pulled up on the half wall, stickhandled and threw the puck towards the net where Jordan Staal was charging hard toward James Reimer.
Through a weak stick check by Roman Polak, Jordan got his stick on the puck, deflecting it up and over the pad of Reimer and into the net. In 16 seconds, the Maple Leafs went from having a bit of positive momentum to digging the puck out of their goal.
Sorry, Horachek. That elusive third win will have to wait. But for Maple Leafs' fans, this might have some significance. With the win, the Hurricanes move within two points of the Maple Leafs in the league standings, getting Toronto even closer to having a higher percentage of landing the first overall pick in the 2015 draft.