The Carolina Hurricanes downed the listless Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 on Tuesday night as both teams resumed their schedules after the Vancouver Olympics.
Chad LaRose - who returned to the lineup after missing the previous seven games before the break due to injury - had a goal and two assists for Carolina, while Tuomo Ruutu, Brandon Sutter, Jussi Jokinen and Sergei Samsonov also scored.
Justin Peters, making just his third NHL start, stopped every shot the Leafs threw his way until John Mitchell finally broke the shutout bid with five minutes to go in the third.
Meanwhile, Jean-Sebastien Giguere was shaky in goal for Toronto, allowing of a pair of weak goals.
With both teams struggling this season, it's widely expected Toronto (19-32-11) and Carolina (25-30-7) will be among the busier teams during Wednesday's NHL trade deadline.
Leafs left-winger Alexei Ponikarovsky sat out Tuesday night, awaiting news on his future, while Carolina made healthy scratches of defenceman Aaron Ward and centre Stephane Yelle. All three players are eligible for unrestricted free agency this July.
Other pending-UFAs mentioned in trade talk that took part in Tuesday's game include the Leafs' Lee Stempniak, Wayne Primeau and Garnet Exelby, and the Hurricanes' Ray Whitney, Joe Corvo and Scott Walker.
Whitney, the most talented of the group, showed why a contending club might covet his play-making skills on Carolina's second goal, which came 46 seconds into the second.
The slick forward spotted Jokinen streaking toward the Leafs net, who beat Giguere high.
Sutter was then left all alone in front of the Toronto goal and banged home a pass from LaRose to make it 3-0. Ruutu then converted a pass from Finnish Olympic teammate Joni Pitkanen, and fired a shot high over Giguere's glove from the faceoff circle.
Carolina's first goal came less than three minutes into the first on a horrendous giveaway by Giguere.
With his team on a power play, the Leafs netminder went behind his net to play a puck. When Giguere failed to make a quick pass, LaRose closed quickly, picked his pocket and deposited the puck in the empty net.
Samsonov's third-period score was also a softie, as he squeezed a weak shot through Giguere from a sharp angle.
Notes: Forward Jamie Lundmark played his first game with the Maple Leafs after the club claimed him on waivers from the Calgary Flames on Feb. 13. ... Defenceman Alexandre Picard, whom Carolina acquired in a trade with the Ottawa Senators before the Olympic break, made his Hurricanes debut. ... Eric Staal picked up an assist in his first game back with the Hurricanes since winning a gold medal with Canada's Olympic men's hockey team. Announced attendance was 19,096.
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