RALEIGH, N.C. — It's hard to say just what the injury-riddled Toronto Maple Leafs are playing on--adrenaline, emotion, focus.
Whatever the formula, it's working in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Alexander Mogilny and Jonas Hoglund scored, and Curtis Joseph turned away 31 shots as Toronto ruined Carolina's first appearance in the Eastern Conference finals, beating the Hurricanes, 2-1, in Game 1 on Thursday night.
"Athletes sometimes get in that groove, even when they should be fatigued," Toronto Coach Pat Quinn said. "There's a wall there someplace, but clearly they mustered up some good strength."
The Maple Leafs came into the best-of-seven series with Carolina dragging and depleted after difficult seven-game series against the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators.
And Tie Domi and Paul Healey became the eighth and ninth regulars out of the lineup. Domi was scratched because of a leg injury and Healey played only two shifts after taking a shot off his knee.
But Toronto gave the Hurricanes lessons in grit and determination by killing seven penalties in the first 28 minutes--and scoring when it counted.
"Our penalty-killers are on our [first two] lines, so that gives them the extra burden to have to log a lot of ice time. That was a real test for them," Quinn said.
Carolina, the third-seeded team as the Southeast Division champions, won its opening games against New Jersey and Montreal, but heads into Game 2 on Sunday trailing.
"I don't think it's discouraging, it just shows what they are made of and it shows what it takes in the big games," Carolina goalie Arturs Irbe said. "Nobody ever said it was going to be easy, and we have fallen behind, but there are still possibly six games to go. There is room for improvement and to catch up."
Quinn said his team shouldn't get too confident from the one-goal win.
"Let's face it, that was a close game," Quinn said. "There were a lot of good chances and we needed terrific goaltending. Let's see if we can be good again [Sunday] and do the little things that help us win."
Carolina outscored Montreal, 17-3, over the final 140 minutes of the semifinal series to close it out in six games.
But open ice was much tougher to come by for the Hurricanes against the more physical Maple Leafs.
"Against Montreal, every loose puck, every rebound was right on our tape," Erik Cole said. "We're going to have to keep doing what we've been doing, get pucks to the net and create more traffic and see what happens."
After a 1-1 first period, Toronto killed four Carolina power plays before getting one of its own with 7:15 left in the second.
Hoglund tipped in a shot from the blue line by Nathan Dempsey for his fourth of the playoffs. The goal was reviewed because the right wing tipped the puck past Irbe with a raised stick, but the 2-1 Toronto lead stood after officials decided the stick was still below the crossbar.
Hoglund almost gave the Maple Leafs a two-goal lead with a minute left in the period when he hit the left post.
Seconds later, Joseph was called for a delay-of-game penalty as the Hurricanes, scoring at 20.4% on the power play coming in, went back to work with the man advantage.
But the Hurricanes failed to get a shot on goal to start the third with 1:23 of power-play time, and Toronto played a tight-checking final 18 minutes to secure its third road win of the postseason.
"You have to give them credit for the way they played, they bottled up the neutral zone," said Jeff O'Neill, who scored Carolina's goal. "For having only a day's rest and coming off a tough series, I thought they played well.
"We didn't have our best game, but that's what happens when a team can frustrate you like that in the neutral zone."
Carolina's momentum continued from its eight-goal Game 6 clincher against Montreal, scoring 3:23 in and peppering Joseph for 15 shots in the opening 20 minutes.
But the Maple Leafs were able to salvage a 1-1 tie after the first period.