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Hurricanes 7, Maple Leafs 1 @NHLdotcom

TORONTO (AP) -This win seemed like the ones the Carolina Hurricanes enjoyed during their run to the Stanley Cup title two seasons ago.

After missing the playoffs the year after winning the Cup, the Hurricanes have their sights set on a more successful season.

Matt Cullen scored for the first time since returning to the Hurricanes, and six others added goals in Carolina's 7-1 rout of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.

Cullen, traded back to Carolina during the summer after one season with the New York Rangers, scored a power-play goal that gave the Hurricanes a 3-1 lead in the second period.

Justin Williams, Cory Stillman, Ray Whitney, Scott Walker, Jeff Hamilton and Eric Staal also scored against goalie Vesa Toskala. Williams, Stillman, Cullen and Rod Brind'Amour each had two assists.

"When we won, everything was easy, and when we lost it was a battle," Stillman said. "You could see it on our faces when you watch video of last year.

"Guys were dragging through the season. But now we're excited to be back. We're a stronger team. Everybody is healthy and ready to play."

Bryan McCabe scored the only Toronto goal with an assist from Mats Sundin, who earned his 916th point with the Maple Leafs and moved into a tie with Darryl Sittler for the club record.

That was long forgotten once Carolina scored seven consecutive goals.

"It was a flat effort by the whole group and that's it," Sundin said. "Really, there's no excuses to have an effort like that.

"It's not like we're in the middle of a tough schedule. We just weren't good and that's the bottom line. It was bad, it was frustrating."

The Hurricanes played like an angry team following a 2-0 loss at Washington last Saturday.

"Sometimes you really need a reminder of how hard it is to win in this league," Williams said.

The thoughts of both teams and the crowd were with Maple Leafs forward Jason Blake, who played his first game since going public with the news Monday that he is battling chronic myelogenous leukemia - a rare form of the disease.

He is being treated with medication and doesn't expect to miss any playing time. Blake, who looked strong when he checked Tim Gleason against the end boards in the opening minute, didn't speak to reporters after the game.

Toronto had a two-man advantage when McCabe opened the scoring at 4:21. Williams tied it at 6:46 by sending a wrist shot past Toskala as the goalie dropped to his knees.

Blake nearly scored his first goal as a Leaf when he tipped a pass, but Ward made the save.

Stillman put Carolina up 2-1 with a power-play goal 23.8 seconds before the end of the period. Stillman made his season debut after missing three games following a car accident.

Cullen made it 3-1 at 11:41 of the second period. Four of Carolina's goals came on power plays. Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette is using five forwards when his team has an extra skater.

"When the other team is coming at our two forwards at the back end it's nail-biting time, but the flip side of that is we've got five dangerous players on the ice," Laviolette said.

Whitney made it 4-1 when he slipped a shot between Toskala's legs on a breakaway at 17:23.

"We didn't play our best, not even close," Toskala said.

Hamilton added another power-play goal at 5:07 with a slap shot from the middle of the Leafs zone into the top corner of the net, drawing boos from the home crowd.

Staal reached from behind the goal-line to squeeze the puck between the post and Toskala's left skate at 14:07 to make it 7-1.

"Our top three lines are as potent as any in the league," Williams said. "We're hoping this win will be a springboard to more offensive production."

Notes: Carolina outshot Toronto 39-28. ... Toronto was 1-for-5 on the power play. Carolina was 4-for-8. ... Carolina improved to 2-1-1 while Toronto slipped to 1-2-1. ... Blake's wife, Sara, had surgery for thyroid cancer six years ago. ... Sundin remained tied with Sittler at 389 for the club's goals record. His assist tied him with Sittler at 527 for second place in team history. Borje Salming owns the record with 620. ... Tucker hasn't earned a point in Toronto's four games. ... Wade Belak has been a healthy scratch for all four Toronto games.

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