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Maple Leafs 5, Hurricanes 2

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- Right winger Phil Kessel scored two goals and the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 on Sunday night.

Left winger Nikolai Kulemin and defensemen Paul Ranger and Dion Phaneuf also scored for the Maple Leafs (20-16-5), who won their second game in a row. Center Tyler Bozak had three assists in his first game since Dec. 3.

Center Nathan Gerbe and defenseman Justin Faulk scored for the Hurricanes (14-16-9) who lost their fifth in a row.

Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped 41 shots while Carolina goalie Cam Ward made 22 saves.

The Maple Leafs were holding on to a one-goal lead in the third period when Ranger gave them a two-goal cushion with his second of the season on a shot from the blue line at 4:58. It was his 100th career NHL point.

Phaneuf scored into an empty net for his fourth goal of the season.

The Maple Leafs led 1-0 after the first period but the Hurricanes needed only 1:36 of the second period to tie it. Gerbe notched his ninth goal of the season with a wrist shot on a pass from right winger Alexander Semin.

The Maple Leafs then struck for two quick goals. Kessel scored his second of the game and 20th of the season at 13:42, finishing off a passing combination with left winger James van Riemsdyk and Bozak. Kulemin added to the lead with his fifth goal of the season at 14:58 on a booming 45-foot snap shot.

The Hurricanes cut the lead to one on a power play when Faulk scored his third goal of the season on a slap shot at 17:34. It came with Carolina holding a 4-on-3 advantage in skaters after Phaneuf was penalized for hooking at 17:12. Semin and Ranger had been sent off at 16:55 for roughing and interference, respectively.

Kessel scored his first goal of the season from a bad angle. His backhand from the left side of the net went in off Ward at 16:56 of the first period. Bozak won the faceoff in the Hurricanes' zone to earn the assist.

NOTES: Toronto C Tyler Bozak (strained oblique) returned to the lineup after missing 12 games. It was only his 17th game of the season because he also missed 12 games with a hamstring injury. ... Maple Leafs C Trevor Smith (hand) and C Dave Bolland (ankle), who could resume skating next week, remained on injured reserve. ... Toronto assigned C Jerred Smithson to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL on Sunday. ... Hurricanes LW Jiri Tlusty (appendectomy) will miss three weeks while D Jay Harrison (concussion) and D Joni Pitkanen (heel) are out indefinitely. ... The Maple Leafs' next game is against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday in the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. ... The Hurricanes return home to play the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.
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