RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes picked up the 1,000th regular-season win in franchise history Monday, so it was a milestone victory.
Brandon Sutter scored twice, Joe Corvo had a goal and an assist, and rookie Jeff Skinner continued to impress with his 18th goal of the season. Including goals by Jamie McBain and Erik Cole, it all added up to a 6-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the RBC Center.
All of which had Corvo and Canes coach Paul Maurice shaking their heads a little.
"There was a lot of stuff going on in that game," Maurice said. "We've had some strange games with Toronto. They are all over the ice, and we have a hard time finding them at times."
Maurice smiled, noting, "It was probably exciting if you didn't have a huge stake in the game, you know?"
But the Canes, as Corvo put it, played as if there was a huge stake in it. The Maple Leafs (19-24-5) are 12th in the Eastern Conference, and it was a game the ninth-place Canes (24-19-6) believed they should win.
"You're supposed to beat 'em, you know?" Corvo said. "You're supposed to beat a team that's below you, at home.
"I think there's a little extra pressure there. I think it maybe showed a little in the third."
Seven goals were scored in a wild third period. Sutter had his two, the first giving the Canes a 3-1 lead.
Tim Brent, who had a three-point night, answered with two rapid-fire goals for the Leafs, the second short-handed to tie the score 3-3.
But Sutter scored again, keeping the puck on a two-on-one rush and rifling a top-shelf shot past goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere for a 4-3 lead, and Skinner's power-play goal made it 5-3 at 11:02.
But the Leafs weren't done. Mike Brown's power-play goal at 14:15 pulled Toronto to one down, and the tension for the Canes did not ease until Cam Ward made the last of his 26 saves and Cole scored an empty-netter with 47 seconds to play.
"You just look at some of those mistakes we made in the third, and those are things we've got to tighten up," Corvo said.
So ended a rough-and-tumble game that had 20 penalties, which began with the Canes' Tuomo Ruutu slamming into the Leafs' Dion Phaneuf behind the Toronto net and Phaneuf retaliating by flattening Ruutu at center ice. Carolina's Chad LaRose fought. The Canes' Tim Gleason fought.
As the first period ended, tied 1-1, Gleason and Nikolai Kulemin mixed it up. Kulemin got in a few jabs, but Gleason landed a haymaker that left Kulemin with a bloody nose and earned Gleason a five-minute major for fighting and a game misconduct.
"I didn't agree with it," Maurice said. "I like the aggressor rule, but Timmy had taken two or three punches to the face. That's usually an invitation for a guy like that. ... I think he was penalized for the result, not the act."
Kulemin was done for the game, and the Canes played without their most physical defenseman. The fans were angry and then were howling when an apparent goal by Skinner, on a second-period wraparound, was reviewed and reviewed, then ruled a no-goal.
It took almost eight minutes for the "war room" in Toronto to study the replays and reach a judgment. Maurice said he had never seen one take longer.
"We were seriously going to ask if we could go and do some laps and warm up a little bit," he quipped.
The Canes later killed off a 5-on-3 by the Leafs in the second, then held on in a back-and-forth third for historic No. 1,000 -- the victories coming as the Hartford Whalers and Carolina Hurricanes.
"One thousand, eh?" Maurice said. "We're getting there. First All-Star Game. We've had a lot of firsts in Raleigh, haven't we?
"There weren't a lot of firsts in Hartford, but there's been a lot of firsts here. It's been a great home for us."
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