RALEIGH — It wasn't the easiest of wins, but few are these days for the Carolina Hurricanes.
But it was a win. And the Canes scored some goals.
The Canes even scored a power-play goal, their first in seven games. They also played sound defense again, this time in front of goalie Cam Ward.
It took the full 60 minutes Sunday, but the Hurricanes fought past the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 3-2 victory at the RBC Center that snapped a three-game losing streak. It also eased the tension hovering over the team and coach Paul Maurice.
Noting the Canes' road game tonight in Philadelphia, Maurice smiled and quipped, "I get to get on the plane."
There was much tension in the game, too. The Hurricanes (7-11-3) led 3-1 with 6:52 left in regulation after Jeff Skinner scored, following up on Eric Staal's breakaway and banging in a rebound after Leafs goalie Ben Scrivens stopped Staal's shot.
But the Leafs' Phil Kessel, the NHL's top scorer, ripped a shot past Ward with one minute left in regulation after Scrivens was lifted for an extra attacker. That made for an exciting final 60 seconds as both teams used their timeouts to set strategy.
"We stayed with it, a good battle at the end, (Ward) made some big saves when we needed him to and it was a good, solid win," Staal said.
The Leafs (11-8-2), who routed the Washington Capitals 7-1 in Toronto on Saturday, appeared to be dragging the first two periods. But that all changed after Kessel, who has 16 goals, scored on a 4-on-3 power-play at 4:31 of the third.
The Canes led 2-0 after two. Defenseman Jay Harrison rifled a bullet past Scrivens with 28 seconds remaining in the first, and center Jussi Jokinen scored the power-play goal - ending Carolina's 0-for-22 power-play streak - barely seven minutes into the second.
But early in the third, the Canes' Chad LaRose was called for cross-checking and the Leafs' Joe Colborne for slashing. When Carolina's Alexei Ponikarovsky, a former Leaf, was penalized for elbowing, the Leafs had the 4-on-3 and converted.
"Kessel is a special player and made good on his two chances to score," Maurice said. "That brought some tension in but now that we've got the win I don't mind having that tension in the game. It's good to learn how to fight those things through."
Ward had allowed eight goals on 53 shots in losses to the Flyers and Montreal Canadiens. Maurice started Brian Boucher against the Buffalo Sabres as the Canes lost 1-0.
Ward faced just 12 shots in the first two periods Sunday but 13 in the third. His glove save of a Tim Connolly wrister early in the third ranked among his best of the season.
"For a guy who faced 12 shots through two periods to make some of the saves he did in the third is a testament to how good he is," Staal said.
After being shut out in back-to-back games by the Habs and Sabres, the Canes had gone nearly 155 scoreless minutes before Harrison ripped a shot past Scrivens from the left circle late in the first. That was a relief for the Canes, and their fans.
Maurice juggled the lines again, using Staal with Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu. Skinner had a goal, his eighth, and an assist, and Staal finished with two assists.
Jokinen's goal came when he passed toward the crease, looking to connect with Chad LaRose, who Maurice said was in a minor traffic accident Saturday. The puck got past Scrivens as rookie defenseman Justin Faulk earned an assist and his first NHL point.
"We played pretty good against Buffalo but couldn't find a way to get that goal," Jokinen said. "It's nice when you get the bounces."
The Hurricanes hadn't gotten many lately, losing seven of their last eight games. But they got some bounces -- and a victory -- Sunday.