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Tuomo Ruutu's shootout goal lifts Hurricanes past Maple Leafs, 6-5 @NHL

Tuomo Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen scored in the shootout as the Carolina Hurricanes rallied from three goals down to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-5 on Thursday night.

The latest meeting of the NHL's worst teams had a wild finish. Ian White put the Maple Leafs ahead 5-4 with 29.9 seconds remaining, but Erik Cole tapped in a rebound with 1.9 seconds left to force overtime.

After an uneventful overtime, Ruutu and Jokinen beat Jonas Gustavsson with wrist shots and Manny Legace stopped Phil Kessel and Lee Stempniak to preserve his first victory with the Hurricanes.

Alexei Ponikarovsky had a goal and an assist, and Matt Stajan, Lee Stempniak and Mikhail Grabovski also scored for the Maple Leafs, who led 3-0 after one period but extended their winless streak to five.

With the loss, Toronto finds itself in sole possession of last place in the NHL.

Tim Gleason scored twice in the third period, Matt Cullen had a goal and an assist, and he and Stephane Yelle scored 43 seconds apart in the second to lead Carolina. Legace stopped 27 shots, and Ruutu finished with four assists for the Hurricanes in their club-record fourth straight overtime game.

Gustavsson finished with 40 saves - and assisted on Ponikarovsky's third-period goal - for Toronto, which picked up points for the first time since Nov. 7, having lost four straight in regulation since.

When these teams last met two weeks ago, the Hurricanes were in the midst of their club-worst-tying 14-game winless streak and lost to the Maple Leafs to claim the indignity of being the worst team in the NHL. Since then, Carolina lost two goalies to injury, including franchise cornerstone Cam Ward, and Legace was brought in to stabilize things for a while.

The situation in the standings hasn't improved much for either team: Carolina entered winless in 15 of its last 16 and haven't won a game in regulation since Oct. 9. The Maple Leafs came in with a lengthy slump of their own, having won only once since their previous visit to Raleigh. The teams entered with a combined record of 6-23-10, and each had 11 points - four behind Anaheim.

Early on, anyway, Toronto seemed determined to stop its slide, scoring 61 seconds in - the quickest goal Carolina has allowed this season - on its second shot of the night, then pushed its lead to 3-0 when Grabovski whipped in a rebound in the final moments of the period.

Gleason, who entered with two goals all year, and nine in his career, tied it 4-4 with 8:04 remaining with his second goal - charging hard to the net, taking a pretty feed from Brandon Sutter and beating Gustavsson with a wrist shot.

That came after Yelle started Carolina's comeback with about three minutes left in the second by banging in a loose puck. Moments later, Cullen beat Gustavsson with a wrist shot to make it a game again.

NOTES: Yelle's goal was his first with Carolina. ... Toronto scored first for just the third time this season. ... Carolina D Andrew Alberts rang the left post midway through the first. ... RW Patrick Dwyer was in the lineup for the Hurricanes, who called him up from Albany earlier in the day.

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