Ron Francis scored twice and Rod Brind'Amour added his first goal with his new team as the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 5-2.
Glen Wesley scored his fifth goal of the season 2:55 into the first while falling to his back leg from the blue line. Just 1:11 later, Dave Karpa added his first since February 25, 1998 with a turnaround slap shot from the point.
Toronto's Nik Antropov followed with his first point since December 23 and sixth goal of the season. Alexander Karpovtsev tied it with his second of the campaign and first since October 27.
But Francis scored just 43 seconds after Toronto had tied it, giving the Hurricanes the lead for good, 3-2 with 7:38 to play in the first period. He also tallied on the power play in the third for a 5-2 lead.
It was the first multi-goal game of the season for the future Hall of Famer, who had three last season. Just over a year ago, Francis scored two goals to lead the Hurricanes to a 6-5 victory in Toronto -- the penultimate game at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Brind'Amour scored the goal of the night between Francis' tallies. He poked the puck through Toronto defenseman Danny Markov's legs at the blue line, warded off a check and switched from his backhand to forehand to beat All-Star Curtis Joseph.
"I haven't scored yet this year here and it was nice to finally get one," Brind'Amour said. "I got a little bit lucky. I think they thought I was going to dump the puck in and I was able to get in there and get a shot on net and it went in."
"It was pretty indicative of what we knew we were getting when we traded for him," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said.
Acquired on January 23 from Philadelphia for Keith Primeau, Brind'Amour, a four-time 30-goal scorer, has three points in nine games with Carolina while suffering through a groin injury. "He was in a lot of pain," Maurice said. "He told me after the morning skate that he was going to be able to play and he didn't sound convincing. I thought there was no way he was going to play.
"That's the guy we traded for, the guy we need. He did a lot of good things tonight. He was pretty impressive." The Hurricanes play in Brind'Amour's hometown of Ottawa on Tuesday.
With the win, the Hurricanes moved within three points of the New York Rangers for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
"After the break, we have 28 games left and we have to win a lot of those to make the playoffs and we're starting off the right way," Francis said.
The Leafs had a chance to get within 5-3 with 15:58 to play, but Arturs Irbe, who totaled 20 saves, stopped Kevyn Adams' backhand attempt on a penalty shot.
1st 2nd 3rd TOTALCarolina 4 1 0 5Toronto 2 0 0 2 FinalFIRST PERIOD Scoring: 1, Carolina, Wesley 5 (Oneill, Kron), 2:55. 2, Carolina, Karpa 1 (unassisted), 4:06. 3, Toronto, Antropov 6 (Tucker, Korolev), 5:37. 4, Toronto, Karpovtsev 2 (power play) (unassisted), 11:39. 5, Carolina, Francis 16 (Halko, Kapanen), 12:22. 6, Carolina, Brind'amour 6 (Ranheim, Gelinas), 13:51. Penalties: Wesley, Car (hooking), 10:55; Antropov, Tor (Obstr tripping), 18:09.SECOND PERIOD Scoring: 7, Carolina, Francis 17 (power play) (Hill, Kron), 13:58. Penalties: Karpa, Car (Obstr holding), 6:31; Di Yushkevich, Tor (hooking), 9:11; Antropov, Tor (high sticking), 13:00; Battaglia, Car (cross checking), 19:44.THIRD PERIOD Scoring: None. Penalties: Korolev, Tor (holding stick), 6:39; Karpa, Car (fighting major), 17:00; Tucker, Tor (fighting major), 17:00; Pratt, Car (roughing), 18:04; Domi, Tor ( double roughing minor), 18:04; Markov, Tor (charging), 18:59.Shots on goal: 1st 2nd 3rd TOTALCarolina 12 12 9 33Toronto 6 7 9 22 Missed penalty shots: Adams, Tor, 4:02 third. Power play Conversions: Car 1 of 6, Tor 1 of 3. Goalies: Carolina, Irbe (22 shots, 20 saves; record: 21 20 7). Toronto, Joseph (33, 28; record: 25 14 6). A:19,136. Referees: Stewart, Trottier. Linesmen: G Devorski, Gagnon.