Carolina Hurricanes\' Eric Staal (12) and Toronto Maple Leafs\' Kyle Wellwood vie for possession during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2007. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Gerry Broome
RALEIGH, N.C. - Carolina had the hardest time getting the first goal.
After that, everything came easy. Scott Walker capped an unlikely comeback by scoring with 32.6 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. Cory Stillman and Ray Whitney scored less than a minute apart in the final 1:25 of regulation to tie the score.
"To come back from two goals down with a minute and a half left - we've got to get momentum after that," Stillman said.
With Carolina on the power play in overtime, Walker tipped a slapshot by Eric Staal past Toronto goalie Vesa Toskala. The Hurricanes hadn't scored on their first seven power plays of the night and had just two goals on their past 31 before Walker's goal.
John Grahame made 34 saves for Southeast Division-leading Carolina, which played without captain Rod Brind'Amour (flu).
Boyd Devereaux and Tomas Kaberle had Toronto's goals. It was the Maple Leafs' seventh overtime loss this season, most in the NHL.
"It's a tough loss for us because we played a solid game except for the last two minutes," Toronto defenceman Pavel Kubina said. "With two minutes I thought it was game over."
Not only did the game look over, but it also seemed like Toskala would have his third shutout of the season. He was at his best in the first five minutes of the game, when Carolina outshot Toronto 10-1 but couldn't score.
The Hurricanes finally sneaked the puck past Toskala when Stillman scored on a rebound with 1:25 remaining.
"We were able to get some life," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "The bench gets life. It's 2-1. The building comes alive and there's energy going out there."
Alexei Ponikarovsky then had the puck stolen by Stillman in the Hurricanes' zone when it looked like he'd score in an empty net in the waning seconds. Carolina's Erik Cole came down the ice and sent the puck across to Whitney, who chopped it past Toskala on the blocker side.
"I didn't know the guy was coming behind me," Ponikarovsky said. "I took a little more time than I should have and he lifted my stick and caused the turnover. It's not acceptable to do that kind of stuff at that time of the game."
Ponikarovsky and Nik Antropov took penalties in overtime to set up Walker's winner.
Toronto had won three straight on the road and was 6-1-1 in its last eight. The Maple Leafs played without defenceman Bryan McCabe, who broke his left hand in Toronto's loss to Montreal on Saturday night and will miss six to eight weeks.
Toronto took the lead in the first period after Carolina squandered a two-man advantage.
With Pavel Kubina and Devereaux in the penalty box, the Maple Leafs killed off 45 seconds of 5-on-3 time. Shortly after the Devereaux penalty expired, Devereaux backhanded a rebound into a wide-open net to give Toronto the lead.
The Maple Leafs scored on the power play late in the second. Kaberle got control of the puck behind the Carolina net and came out and stuffed the puck past Grahame, who started ahead of Cam Ward for the second straight game.
Carolina's David Tanabe left the game in the second period with a concussion and didn't return.
Notes: The last time Brind'Amour missed a game was Feb. 14 with an injured elbow. ... Toronto is on a seven-game road trip. ... Antropov gave Cole a bloody lip with a cross check in the first period. ... It was Paul Maurice's third visit back to the RBC Center as coach of the Maple Leafs. ... Carolina and Toronto are two of four teams in the NHL that have 100 goals for and against. Calgary and Tampa Bay are the other two.