Kids stuff is not enough

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- On a night that young Maple Leafs Alexander Steen and Matt Stajan had milestone games, for Eric Staal, it was simply another day at the office.

And it was all the Carolina Hurricanes needed to register a come-from-behind, 4-3 victory over the Leafs last night.

Staal, the NHL's offensive player of the month for October and the league's leading scorer with 25 points in 12 games, collected two goals and an assist. So too did Steen, who enjoyed his first two-goal NHL game, while Stajan turned in his first three-point night in the NHL.

But despite the efforts of its youngsters, and a fine game by the defence pair of Ken Klee and Aki Berg, the Leafs let a 3-2 lead early in the third period slip away.

Erik Cole redirected a pass out from Cory Stillman with just 94 seconds left on the clock for the winner.

Leafs coach Pat Quinn was not happy with the fact that Stillman gained control of the puck after a turnover by Stajan led to an odd-man rush. And he wondered where his club was for the final half of the third.

"We stopped checking and it's why we lost the game," Quinn said. "Our forwards did not do much in the offensive zone except get caught. The last 10 minutes, they did not pick anything up. We just gave them a lot of room."

Said Eric Lindros simply: "It was not the best outing for some of our group and that's the way it is. We had a lead and we can't play ping-pong with that team."

Ray Whitney also scored for Carolina while goalkeeper Cam Ward stopped 22 shots.

Klee and Berg both were plus-3 on the night, with Klee drawing two assists. Ed Belfour made 31 saves.

Jeff O'Neill, in his first game in Raleigh as a member of the opposing team, did not draw a noticeable reaction from the crowd. The announced gathering was 13,801 at the RBC Center, which holds 18,730 for hockey. So much for the old saying that everyone loves a winner.

The 'Canes set a club record with their sixth consecutive home win and they are such a good skating club that no lead is safe.

Though Quinn was loathe to tip his hat to the Hurricanes' speed, choosing to blast his own team for bad positioning, Staal and Cole were next to unstoppable. Cole, who had two assists, sprung his linemate on a breakaway for the first Carolina goal and Staal scored early in the third to tie it 3-3.

"It was a great win for us," Staal said."I can't say anything less about Cole. (Playing well in front of Quinn, Canada's Olympic team coach) was not something I was focusing on, but I wanted to make a difference."

The Leafs power play, lethal a few weeks ago and still ranked second in the NHL going into last night, sputtered. Toronto was 0-for-6, and could not score on a two-man advantage for almost a minute in the second period.

"Our shooting the puck in was lousy and we did not recover it very well," Quinn said. "If you are standing around, you are a lot easier to keep off the scoreboard."


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