In the midst of a frustrating season in which little of what Eric Staal tried has worked, the Carolina captain leaned on his younger brother for advice after the Hurricanes faced Jordan Staal and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.
Employing an aggressive approach, Eric Staal scored two goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, including the winner 3:09 into overtime that gave the Hurricanes a 4-3 comeback win.
Jordan had reminded him about all the ugly goals Eric had scored over the years.
”He was the first one last night to say, `Just start shooting. Start shooting from everywhere. Make it ugly,”’ Eric Staal said. ”I talked to him on the way to the rink, and said, `I’ll be firing it from all angles, and we’ll see what happens.”’
Staal also added an assist and had a team-high five shots as the Hurricanes won their third straight game at home for the first time since March. Staal hadn’t scored since Dec. 6 and didn’t have a point in his last seven games.
”That is a big load off of him,” Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. ”I know it is just one game, but that is a huge game mentally for him.”
Zac Dalpe and Brandon Sutter had the Hurricanes’ other goals. Cam Ward made 21 saves for Carolina, which rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period.
Nikolai Kulemin, Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri had Toronto’s goals.
Two days after allowing three goals on eight shots in a 5-3 loss to Florida, James Reimer made 30 saves for the Maple Leafs. Reimer entered with a 3-0 record against Carolina and had allowed only two goals to the Hurricanes in his career.
But he couldn’t prevent the Maple Leafs from coughing up a 3-1 lead with a little more than 10 minutes left.
”Obviously, we wanted to win that one,” Reimer said. ”We set ourselves up to win, but we made a couple mistakes that cost us.”
Staal scored the deciding goal while Tim Connolly was in the penalty box following a tripping penalty. Staal fired a one-timer from the right circle past Reimer’s shoulder to end it.
”I think that’s a puck that I want to stop at least most of the time, but good for him. He’s a good player,” Reimer said. ”He’s got a good shot. At least we got the point.”
That put the finishing touch on one of Carolina’s most exciting victories of the season.
With the score tied 1-1 midway through the third period, Toronto’s Darryl Boyce nudged the puck at Ward’s left pad after taking a pass on the rush. Carolina’s Alexei Ponikarovsky didn’t wrap up Kulemin in front, allowing the Maple Leafs forward to tap in the rebound for his fourth goal.
Lupul made it 3-1 less than 3 minutes later when he deflected a shot from the point past Ward at the end of a Maple Leafs power play.
The Hurricanes responded quickly.
Staal beat Reimer between the pads during a breakaway 40 seconds after Lupul’s goal, and Dalpe tied it when he finished off a scramble in front. That goal came a little more than 2 minutes after Staal brought Carolina within one.
”At least we got the point, but I’m not happy,” Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. ”I’m disappointed in the way that once we got a lead our mental approach wasn’t right.”
NOTES: It was the second NHL assist for Bowman. … After being short-handed only five times in five home games, Carolina killed all seven Toronto power plays. … The Maple Leafs and Hurricanes split their two previous meetings this season.