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Vrbta, Cullen score in 'Canes shootout to top Maple Leafs

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Carolina Hurricanes were so desperate
to end a season-worst, three-game losing streak they would've
played all night if necessary.

It took shootout goals from Radim Vrbata and Matt Cullen for
Carolina to pull out a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on
Friday night.

"Losing the way we were was not acceptable," Hurricanes
captain Rod Brind'Amour said.

Toronto forwards Mats Sundin and Jeff O'Neill were stopped
during the shootout, leaving the Maple Leafs with back-to-back
losses for the first time in nearly a month.

Bret Hedican, Eric Staal and Andrew Ladd, playing in his third
NHL game, scored in regulation for Carolina.

There was an extended video review of a potential goal by Sundin
43 seconds into overtime that would have won it for Toronto.

"I don't know how they missed it, it was in twice," Toronto
coach Pat Quinn said. "I don't know how they missed it. I'd like
to get a break."

Later, the Hurricanes fended off a Toronto power play, but the
Maple Leafs needed goalie Mikael Tellqvist's save of Aaron Ward's
shot with three seconds remaining in overtime to reach the
shootout.

Neither Tellqvist, making his sixth appearance of the season, or
Carolina goalie Martin Gerber had been involved in a shootout this
season.

Vrbata and Cullen haven't scored in a combined 22 games, but
Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said he felt comfortable sending
them out for the shootout.

Carolina's previous 12 games ended in regulation. The
Hurricanes' only other shootout came in the second game of the
season when they defeated Pittsburgh on Oct. 7.

"It's a relief for everyone," Ladd said. "Nobody likes a
losing streak."

Toronto's Chad Kilger scored off a feed from Eric Lindros, who
won a faceoff, with 8:37 remaining in regulation to tie it at 3.

O'Neill, a former Carolina player, and Jason Allison also scored
for Toronto.

"It's never fun to lose in a shootout the way we did, but at
least we showed some character," O'Neill said.

The Hurricanes, whose special teams were criticized by
Laviolette earlier in the week, scored two power-play goals and
added another short-handed.

Brind'Amour logged more than 25 minutes in his first game after
a four-game absence with a groin injury.

"I kept checking with him to see if he's OK, and he was,"
Laviolette said. "The thing with Roddy, he doesn't get eased back
in."

Ladd, the fourth overall selection in the 2004 draft, knocked in
the puck during a power-play scramble in front of the net with 2:18
left in the second period. Officials used video review to confirm
the goal for the 19-year-old left wing.

Staal's second-period, short-handed goal gave the Hurricanes a
short-lived 2-1 lead. Staal's team-leading 16th was his first
short-handed.

Allison tied the game at 2 on a move down the right side.

Hedican opened the scoring less than five minutes in, sending a
drive from near the blue line. The puck skidded off a Toronto skate
and into the net, giving the Hurricanes their first power-play goal
in three games.

O'Neill's power-play goal came after Gerber blocked Alex Steen's
shot. O'Neill, who spent his first nine NHL seasons with the
Carolina franchise, was scoreless in two earlier games this season
against the Hurricanes.

Game notes
Carolina activated D Glen Wesley, who missed eight games
with a groin injury. Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour returned
after a four-game absence with a groin injury. LW Ray Whitney
missed his second game in a row with an injured groin. Carolina LW
Cory Stillman (foot) and D Oleg Tverdovsky (ill) missed their first
games of the season. ... Toronto RW Darcy Tucker, tied for fourth
on the team with eight goals, missed his first game of the season
to be home with his wife who is expecting a baby. Tucker scored the
Maple Leafs' only goal Wednesday night against Boston. ... Carolina
D Andrew Hutchinson earned his first points with the organization
with assists on the Hurricanes' first and third goals.