RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Nik Antropov is out to prove the Toronto Maple Leafs can score - and win - without their injured stars.
Antropov scored two goals in the third period to lead Toronto to a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. "You can see the last few games, everybody was kind of scoring - young guys take it on their shoulders, and older guys step up and everybody played equal," said Antropov. "Now you have to win all of them (to make the playoffs), so that's what we're trying to do."
Former Hurricane Bates Battaglia also scored, Tomas Kaberle had an empty-net goal and an assist, and Andrew Raycroft stopped 28 shots for the Maple Leafs, who are missing forwards Kyle Wellwood, Darcy Tucker and Michael Peca.
The Maple Leafs entered the game two points behind a pack of three teams vying for the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
Toronto kept the Hurricanes scoreless in the final two periods, held a 38-29 shots advantage and was clearly the more physical team in winning for the fourth time in five games.
"Physically, we were good," said Toronto coach Paul Maurice, the former Carolina coach. "We hit hard tonight and often. That was a big difference for us. We need to do that. One of our assets is that we have actually quite a big team, especially on the wings."
Ray Whitney scored and Cam Ward stopped 34 shots for the Hurricanes, who have dropped four of five.
Ward was pulled for an extra attacker with about 2???? minutes remaining, but the Hurricanes couldn't get anything going against Raycroft.
"We talked about the third period being a period where we couldn't make mistakes, you couldn't overextend your shifts, you couldn't get caught in a bad line change," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "We had a breakdown defensively right off the bat, and then from there they kept coming."
Antropov put Toronto ahead for good 37 seconds into the third period. Kaberle started the sequence with a slapshot from the point that was stopped by Ward. Mats Sundin took the rebound and snapped it to Antropov, who backhanded the puck past the diving goalie to make it 2-1.
"The net was wide open, so it was kind of easy to get," said Antropov.
He scored again with about four minutes left. Antropov took the puck behind the net, made a move on Scott Walker and tucked the puck off the back of Ward's left skate.
"That really put a nail in it," Laviolette said.
Battaglia put the Maple Leafs up 1-0 with six minutes remaining in the first period when he tipped in the rebound of John Pohl's one-timer from the left circle for his first goal in five games.
Whitney tied it two minutes later when he took a pass from Dennis Seidenberg, maneuvered through Toronto's defencemen and stuffed the puck between Raycroft's pads for his 21st goal.
But it came on just the Hurricanes' fourth shot.
"They were pinching on both sides, and I guess we had problems getting the puck out of the zone, and we had too many turnovers," Seidenberg said.
At one point, the Maple Leafs outshot Carolina 10-1, and they dodged trouble when Eric Belanger missed a penalty shot.
"It was a tough first when we're putting lots of pucks at the net," Raycroft said. "You definitely want to make that save right there because you don't want to go down 1-0 right away."
Belanger, awarded the attempt when he was brought down on a breakaway by Carlo Colaiacovo, faked a slapshot from the slot but missed the net with a wrist shot. That left the Hurricanes scoreless on three penalty-shot tries this season.
Notes: Carolina LW Erik Cole (lower-body contusion) didn't play. . . . C Boyd Devereaux and D Brendan Bell were scratched for Toronto. . . . Hurricanes D Niclas Wallin returned after missing three games with a lower-body injury. . . . Whitney has goals in three straight home games and leads the team with 58 points. . . . The Maple Leafs hold a 2-1 lead in the season series, winning twice in Raleigh.