1. Andersen shines in first period, but Leafs skaters give up too many shots, generate too few. Toronto was playing the first of two games in as many nights and seeking to end a two-game losing streak, but there was no sense of urgency among Leafs skaters to start the night Friday in Carolina. The Hurricanes dominated possession, took advantage of Buds turnovers, and pressured the visitors into taking a pair of minor penalties. The Leafs couldn't match the Hurricanes' speed or willpower in the first 20 minutes of action, and managed just four shots on Cam Ward in that span.
The Canes could've led by three or four goals were it not for the play of Toronto netminder Frederik Andersen, who again looked dialled-in and dynamic in turning aside all 14 Carolina shots he saw in the opening period, including two from Hurricanes winger Teuvo Teravainen that were golden scoring chances. Andersen's performance is an especially bright spot right now, but the familiar recent pattern of slow Leafs starts to games continues to be an area of concern for head coach Mike Babcock.
Video: TOR@CAR: Hyman buries beautiful feed from Gardiner
2. Hyman scores quickly in second, Kadri's assist extends career-high point streak. The Leafs were running with newer lines in this game, and playing on a relatively new trio with centre Auston Matthews and fellow winger Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman helped Toronto atone for its sub-par first period when he scored 53 seconds into the second frame to give the visitors the first lead of the night.
Hyman's marker was his fifth of the year, and the secondary assist on the goal gave centre Nazem Kadri at least one point in nine straight games, extending his personal best in that department. More crucially, it gave the Leafs an advantage almost immediately after they were thoroughly outplayed in the first. Andersen gave them a chance early on, and their quick push in the second was exactly the type of opportunism they were looking for.
Video: TOR@CAR: Leivo snipes one for his first of the season
3. Leivo, Hainsey step up and score to boost Toronto's lead to three goals. Playing in his sixth game of the season, winger Josh Leivo strengthened his case to stay in the lineup by netting his first goal of the year at 7:14 of the second period to make it 2-0.
After picking up a slick off-the-boards pass from blueliner Andreas Borgman, Leivo streaked down the wing on a partial breakaway and beat Canes goalie Cam Ward with a shot that snapped over his glove and into the upper net. Leivo had nine goals and 19 points in 41 career NHL games entering this year, and he's been admirably patient as he awaited his opportunity. The 24-year-old doesn't score in any one particular manner; instead, he has a knack for making the most of whatever the chaos of the play gives him, and that's what he did once he picked up Borgman's savvy feed.
Four minutes and 23 seconds after Leivo's goal, defenceman Ron Hainsey took advantage of centre Tyler Bozak's screening of Ward, and fired a wrist shot over his shoulder for his second goal of the season and a 3-0 Leafs lead. Hainsey's first goal of the year came just three games prior when he scored against the Montreal Canadiens Nov. 18, and as a key defensive presence who now has 11 points in 24 games as a Leaf, he's settling in rather nicely at both ends of the ice in his first season with Toronto.
Video: TOR@CAR: van Riemsdyk rips one in off the post
4. Hurricanes get on scoreboard thanks to Ryan, but Leafs regain commanding lead before second intermission. The Hurricanes cut the Leafs' lead to 3-1 at the 13:35 mark of the second, but with 1:36 left before the second intermission, winger James van Riemsdyk registered his 12th goal of the season to restore Toronto's three-goal lead. van Riemsdyk now has 12 goals this year, moving him into a tie with Matthews for the team lead.
That said, it's likely a little more special to him that he got it playing against his brother and Canes D-man Trevor van Riemsdyk. The van Riemsdyk family was in attendance to see the siblings square off, and James van Riemsdyk availed himself particularly well Friday: with a goal and two points, he was named the game's third star, behind Carolina winger Jeff Skinner and the first star, Andersen.
Video: TOR@CAR: Marleau buries the great feed from Matthews
5. Carolina shows urgency in third with three goals, but Marleau's reply is the difference as Toronto returns to win column. Canes centre Jordan Staal scored his seventh goal of the season at 3:08 of the third to make it 4-2 for Toronto, but Skinner was called for interference on Andersen 47 seconds after that to put his team back on the defensive. And on the ensuing power play, Leafs forward Patrick Marleau scored his ninth of the year to put the Buds ahead again by three with 14:33 left in regulation time.
Marleau's goal proved important, as the Hurricanes drastically ramped up the pressure on the Buds for the rest of the period, outshooting Toronto 20-9 in the third (and 47-25 overall) and cutting the Leafs' lead to 5-4 after goals from centre Elias Lindholm (at the 13:58 mark) and blueliner Noah Hanifin (at 15:49). But despite the Leafs playing in their own zone for the last quarter of the third, Andersen made a slew of big-time stops the rest of the way, and Toronto improved its record to 15-8-1.
It was a shaky finish for the Leafs, who immediately headed home focused on their Saturday night showdown against the Washington Capitals at Air Canada Centre. But their four-goal outburst in the second, combined with Andersen's stellar play in winning his 13th game of the season, was just enough to earn two points against a talented, up-and-coming Canes squad.