Frozen tundra caused the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres to wait until February 25, which is the day after the Olympic break, to meet for the first time this season. Due to inclement weather on Tuesday, the Canes were given an extra day to rest and was returned in their favor.
It didn't take long for the Hurricanes to strike first against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. Zach Boychuck picked up the puck in the slot on his backhand and managed to get the puck past James Reimer.
Carolina etched their first powerplay goal after Nikolai Kuleman was sent to the penalty box for hooking on Drayson Bowman. Skinner was able add to his staggering resume this season by scoring the second goal for the Canes off of a rebound that tipped Reimer's glove before the puck found it's way to the mesh.
Joffery Lupul was the only Leafs player that was able to convert. Lupul's goal came on a one-timer feed in front of the net on an assist from Mason Raymond.
In the first period, the Hurricanes out-shot the Maple Leafs 15-8 recording three goals. Patrick Dwyer tallied the last goal for the period.
Adding a little salt in the wound, the former Maple Leaf John-Michael Liles placed the puck blocker side on Reimer to put the Canes up 4-1 in the second period.
Seeing that this wasn't the turn out Toronto was hoping for, their discipline fell as the game progressed. Mark Fraser was sent to the box after cross checking the Finnish Olympian, Tuomo Ruutu.
Jordan Staal established the third period's first on a slick wrist shot that sailed top corner over Reimer's glove.
Joffery Lupul showed his frustration by throwing fistdacuffs with recently named US Olympian Justin Faulk. After Faulk's success in the fight, the PNC Arena proceeded to chant "USA! USA! USA!"
Elias Lindholm was the last to record a goal for the Hurricanes on a 5-on-3 powerplay as the puck was shot behind the net and careened off the boards onto Lindholm's stick and into the back of the net.
Carolinas win advanced them to five straight wins and Anton Khudobin to six wins in his first six starts. The Kazakhstan goaltender has a Goals Against Average of 1.84 and a save percentage of .943.
In recent efforts, the Hurricanes have had a history of not playing a full 60 minutes, but that was proved wrong against Toronto. Back checking by the offense was stellar. Lindholm found himself able to back check a few times and was able to get a stick on his man and get the puck away.
Offensively the Hurricanes made great plays continually throughout the night and ran the cycle well also.
Jeff Skinner and the Hurricanes play the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight and try to advance to their sixth straight win.