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Strange goal helps Hurricanes rally past Maple Leafs

by Staff /

A planned night off for Jonathan Bernier turned out to be one the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender would like to forget.

Bernier misplayed a 170-foot clearing attempt by the Carolina Hurricanes into a goal that gave the visitors a 3-2 victory at Air Canada Centre on Thursday. Bernier, pressed into action when James Reimer was injured 32 seconds into the game, allowed the puck to bounce off the end boards, then off him and into the net with 6:54 remaining.

"A bad mistake on my part," Bernier said. "... [The] puck was spinning a lot and I misjudged it."

Toronto lost for the second time in eight games this season. The Maple Leafs have been outshot six times and have allowed at least 31 shots in every game.

"The hockey gods got back at us tonight," coach Randy Carlyle said.

Hurricanes defenseman Ron Hainsey shot the puck from the left circle in his zone off the boards. It traveled into the Toronto end, hit the end boards and caromed back toward Bernier, who missed it with his goal stick and had it bounce off his right skate and into the net.

"A lot of bad things actually happened," Hainsey said, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. "We called a breakout one way and went the other way. [Jeff Skinner] got called off for a change, so he let it go, so it was going to be an icing.

"It's just one of those lucky things that happens over time."

Unlucky Bernier agreed.

"It's a long season and those fluke ones can happen once in a while," he said. "You just have to bounce back."

Hurricanes forward Radek Dvorak was heading up ice to avoid an icing call on the play.

"With hybrid icing you never know," Dvorak said, according to the newspaper. "I saw the puck and I had good speed, so I tried to get in on the forecheck. Luckily for us, the puck went in."

It was the second strange moment involving a Maple Leafs goalie.

Toronto forward Josh Leivo knocked Reimer from the game with a collision at the net early in the first period. Reimer was attempting to cover a rebound when a backchecking Leivo made contact and knocked off the goalie's mask.

"James came out to cover the puck and I couldn't turn," Leivo said. "I tried jumping over him but my knee caught his head."

Reimer, making consecutive starts for the first time this season, left the ice with assistance. With the Maple Leafs' American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, traveling to Rochester, N.Y., Brett Willows of the University of Toronto wound up as the emergency backup. Willows reportedly arrived just before the start of the third period.

Carlyle said Reimer had a headache but was expected to be able to practice Friday.

Toronto's Joffrey Lupul started the scoring 2:30 into the second period, when on a 2-on-1 with Nazem Kadri his shot from the right wing deflected of Hurricanes defenders back to Lupul, who put it past Cam Ward. Paul Ranger had the assist for his first NHL point since Oct. 10, 2009.

Leivo scored his first NHL goal on a similar play, but more cleanly, snapping a forehand past Ward during a 2-on-1 with Jay McClement to make it 2-0 at 6:47.

Each of the odd-man breaks was made possible by a pinching Hurricanes defenseman who was up ice in the offensive zone when the puck went off the glass and past him.

Carolina rallied with third-period goals from Ryan Murphy and Eric Staal before Hainsey's strange game-winner.

Murphy, an Aurora, Ontario, native, scored his first NHL goal with a left-point blast during a power play at 2:54. Staal took advantage of a blocked shot he gathered in the slot then fired past Bernier at 6:48.

Bernier finished with 34 saves. Ward stopped 24 shots.

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