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Forum and wire reports, Published January 16 2009

Ex-Spuds shine: Blake, Cullen go off in Leafs-Canes contest

RALEIGH, N.C. – In a game featuring two former Moorhead High School players, Jason Blake’s three goals helped give the Toronto Maple Leafs the victory.

Blake added two assists for a five-point night as Toronto defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 6-4 on Thursday.

Carolina’s Matt Cullen, who like Blake is a former Spuds player, had a goal and an assist.

The Leafs ended a four-game losing streak. Ian White and Niklas Hagman also scored, and Vesa Toskala made 28 saves.

After leading 4-0 late in the second period, the Leafs watched Carolina score four goals in 10 minutes to tie it midway through the third. But Kaberle came through with a one-timer that bounced off Cam Ward’s glove and into the net with 5:25 left to retake the lead, and Blake added an empty-net score in the final seconds to seal it.

“We didn’t put our heads down,” Kaberle said. “It doesn’t mean that (when) it’s 4-4, you’re going to lose the game. It was a good attitude on the bench and it’s a learning process.”

Not exactly a textbook way to win, but Toronto could have used any bit of fortune considering its struggles this month.

“I don’t know if there is any bittersweetness for us,” coach Ron Wilson said, “but yeah, we found a way to win. We never should have put ourselves in that position, but we did.”

Toronto 1 3 2 – 6

Carolina 0 1 3 – 4

First period: 1, Toronto, White 6 (Blake), 12:43 (pp).

Second period: 2, Toronto, Blake 11 (Tlusty, T.Kaberle), 1:40. 3, Toronto, Hagman 12 (Antropov), 10:05. 4, Toronto, Blake 12 (Moore, Tlusty), 15:07. 5, Carolina, Cullen 10 (Babchuk, Walker), 18:31.

Third period: 6, Carolina, Ruutu 13 (Staal, Seidenberg), 1:21. 7, Carolina, Staal 19 (Corvo, Whitney), 4:33 (pp). 8, Carolina, Walker 3 (Whitney, Cullen), 8:40. 9, Toronto, T.Kaberle 4 (Kubina, Blake), 14:35 (pp). 10, Toronto, Blake 13 (Tlusty), 19:49 (en).

Shots on Goal – Toronto 5-13-6 – 24. Carolina 12-5-15 – 32.

Goalies: Toronto, Toskala 15-16-5 (32 shots-28 saves). Carolina, Ward 16-13-3 (23-18).

A – 18,037 (18,680). T – 2:25.