TORONTO — Former Maple Leafs winger Viktor Stalberg scored the go-ahead goal shorthanded on Tuesday night as the Carolina Hurricanes edged Toronto 2-1 for their fifth straight victory.
Jeff Skinner also scored for Carolina (8-6-4), Cam Ward stopping 25-of-26 shots.
Frederik Andersen made 27 saves for Toronto (8-8-3), which lost for only the third time in 10 games at home. Jake Gardiner was the only Leaf to beat Ward.
The night began with a thud on the Leafs side when star rookie Mitch Marner blocked a hard shot and then absorbed a nasty blow to the face, both courtesy of six-foot-two Hurricanes defenceman Jaccob Slavin. Briefly unable to put pressure on his left leg, Marner wheeled himself awkwardly to the bench and then hobbled around uncomfortably behind it.
The 19-year-old, who sits second in team scoring (16 points), missed only a shift before returning to action. He finished the period with two shots, including a dangerous chance off the rush as the frame wound down.
Gardiner opened the scoring for Toronto a short while later, blowing a point shot past Ward. A hearty screen from rookie winger Connor Brown made the shot difficult to see for the Hurricanes goaltender, who's been rolling of late. Ward came into Tuesday's action with a 5-1-2 record and .944 save percentage in November.
His resurgence, following a rough October, has been key to the Hurricanes season-long win streak.
The Hurricanes evened the score at 1-1 on a late period power play. Derek Ryan's initial attempt on the opposite side of the goal floated over Andersen and off the crossbar, eventually nudged into the net by the left skate of Skinner. The 24-year-old leads the Hurricanes with six power-play points and 16 points overall this season.
Auston Matthews, meanwhile, continued to generate chances for the Leafs without finding the back of the net. He had two chances in a matter of moments early in the second frame and then fired another opportunity over the net. The 19-year-old has gone 13 consecutive games without scoring, his last goal coming nearly a month ago on Oct. 25.
Toronto controlled possession of the puck with him on the ice, however, up over 53 per cent for the game. Matthews finished with four shots in 20 minutes.
The Hurricanes jumped ahead in the back half of the second while killing a penalty. Carolina picked off Tyler Bozak's passing attempt in the neutral zone and sent Stalberg in alone, the former Leaf beating Andersen with his third goal in 17 games this season.
The Leafs nearly gave up another shorthanded goal moments later, Elias Lindholm breaking in against Andersen after a puck bounced over Gardiner's stick at the blue-line.
Toronto had been running hot at home, winners in seven of nine to start the season and six of the previous seven. The club, which has won only once in nine road games (1-5-3), had posted six goals in four of their previous five games at the Air Canada Centre.
They were held in check though by the notoriously stingy Hurricanes, kept under 30 shots for only the fifth time all season.
The Leafs nearly tied the game in the opening seconds of the third frame, Marner ringing a shot off the post during a mad scramble in front of Ward. A late period power play yielded plenty of zone time, but only a single shot.
Toronto, which has rallied to win only once when they've trailed after two periods (1-7-0), now heads to New Jersey for a Wednesday night tilt with the Devils, one of a league-leading 18 back-to-backs this season.