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Staals help Hurricanes edge Maple Leafs

by Kurt Dusterberg

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes haven't had enough consistent scoring throughout the lineup this season, but they did get some good balance between the Staal brothers Friday.

Eric and Jordan Staal each scored in the first period, and the Hurricanes made the goals stand up in a 2-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at PNC Arena.

"Will that be the only way we win games? No, but it's definitely a big way that we will," Jordan Staal said. "It's just a matter of not cheating the system and doing the things we're asked. And on top of that, just find that extra shot."

Cam Ward made 23 saves for his 15th win of the season for the Hurricanes (21-29-7), who swept the three-game season series with the Maple Leafs.

Toronto (23-31-5) is 4-22-2 in its past 28 games. James Reimer made 25 saves.

"I thought this was a game we can be proud of," Reimer said. "I thought we worked hard. We would have liked to have scored a few more goals, but we had opportunities and we played an honest game."

After missing on a handful of scoring chances early in the first period, the Hurricanes scored on the power play for a 1-0 lead. Eric Staal's stick caught a piece of Justin Faulk's wrist shot from the blue line for his 18th goal.

Toronto countered less than four minutes later with Brandon Kozun's first NHL goal. David Booth's shot hit the left post and slid across the crease to Kozun, who needed two tries to push the puck past Brad Malone at the right post at 17:53.

Kozun, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in sixth round of the 2009 NHL Draft, was playing in his eighth NHL game.

Carolina reclaimed the lead 16 seconds after Kozun's goal, this time with Eric Staal setting up a goal by his younger brother. He held the puck patiently along the wall before putting a pass on Jordan Staal's stick for a redirect from the low slot.

"He went to the net hard and had his stick on the ice, and he was able to pull up and make a play," Eric Staal said. "It was a big goal at the time, following it up right after their goal."

Ward had to be sharp in the first period, when he made 12 saves.

"We said after the first period we were a little too loosey-goosey in our own zone, and we wanted to tighten it up," Ward said. "I thought in the second and third period we were much better."

Carolina's second-ranked penalty kill played a big role the rest of the way. Toronto had three power plays in the second period and one in the third, but failed to generate a shot.

"They've got a really good penalty kill, and it prevented our power play from getting scoring chances," Toronto forward Daniel Winnik said. "They do a great job of standing at the blue line, and right when it gets moved to the wall, their defense jumps that guy automatically and their forwards are filling back."

The game was far from a masterpiece for the Hurricanes, who had lost three of four coming into the game.

"I think we could have been better in a lot of areas," said Eric Staal, who has 11 goals in his past 22 games. "Our execution could have been a little better, and we were a little sloppy in our play through the neutral zone both ways. When we play the way [Hurricanes coach Bill Peters] wants us to, we've shown we're outshooting teams like crazy. We're playing at a higher level and at a different pace."

The Hurricanes visit the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, when the Maple Leafs return home to host the Winnipeg Jets.

"Right now, after games is the hardest time," Toronto coach Peter Horachek said. "You've got to deal with it for an hour, then you've got to move on."

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