RALEIGH -- The Carolina Hurricanes found themselves in a slightly strange place Thursday -- at home.
After playing six straight games on the road, spending 12 days away from Raleigh, the Canes returned to top the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 at PNC Arena.
The Canes, 4-1-1 on the road swing, were intent on giving a sellout crowd a good show on home ice. But Carolina played without injured defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason, and was facing a Leafs team that had won four straight and had a 6-1 road record.
The Canes avoided a letdown in their first home game after the six-game road trip, getting contributions from everyone in the lineup, including defenseman Michal Jordan, who was making his NHL debut.
"The coaches did a really good job of addressing that in our meetings," said Canes goalie Dan Ellis, who got the start and earned his third win. "They constantly made us aware that, 'Guys, it's almost like an extra road game. Let's approach it with the mentality you want to finish the road trip strong, even though you're at home.'
"That's what we did. We gave a good push and got a good win against a hot team."
Joe Corvo, Jussi Jokinen and Jordan Staal all scored in the second period as the Southeast Division leading Canes (8-4-1) built a 3-1 lead. It was then a matter of protecting the lead and helping out Ellis, who got the start in net as Cam Ward was given the night off.
In contrast, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle could find nothing good about his team.
"It was probably one of the least inspiring performances we have had in a while," Carlyle said. "We did not have much going in the hockey game. We didn't skate, and we are a skating team. We didn't move the puck, we didn't execute.. We didn't playa game we're capable of playing -- there's no other way to sugar-coat that."
After a scoreless first, Corvo collected a loose puck in front of the net and whipped a shot past Leafs goalie Ben Scrivens. Corvo, wearing the "A" as alternate captain with Tim Gleason out with an injury, later assisted on Staal's goal.
The Leafs (8-6-0) tied the score 1-1 on Nazem Kadri's power-play goal -- Kadri getting a piece of Dion Phaneuf's shot from the point. But Jokinen pushed the Canes ahead when Scrivens sprawled to his right to try and corral the puck, only to have it pop out to Jokinen.
Staal's goal came after a Leafs turnover in the offensive zone. Scrivens stopped a shot by the Canes' Jeff Skinner off the rush but Staal collected the rebound in the left circle and whipped a shot past Scrivens for his second goal of the season.
Eric Staal picked up an assist on Corvo's goal, extending his point streak to 11 games. Some hard work by Staal and Alex Semin set up the Corvo goal -- Staal keeping the puck alive on his knees. Skinner had a pair of assists in the second.
Neither team was very sharp in the first, which ended scoreless. Both had eight shots in the period and the Canes had the better scoring chances, but Scrivens made some sparkling saves.
With 1:13 left, a Leafs shot tricked through the pads of Ellis, who got the starting nod. Ellis couldn't find the puck, which stopped a few inches from the goal line, and finally fell back on it.
Canes forward Kevin Westgarth, back in the lineup, livened up the crowd by taking on Leafs heavyweight Colton Orr two minutes into the game. The two slugged it out as the referees kept their distance -- call it a draw.
The Leafs had the only power play of the first, but the Canes penalty killers were aggressive. The Leafs' James Van Reimsdyk had a shot ring the post, and the Canes' Eric Staal later had a shorthanded opportunity that forced Scrivens into a tough save.
Jordan, recalled Thursday afternoon from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL), made his NHL debut. Jordan was paired with Bobby Sanguinetti, who played in Charlotte this season during the NHL lockout.
The Canes played without injured defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Gleason, both out with lower-body injuries. Forward Chad LaRose was a late scratch.
The Leafs were without goalie James Reimer and forward Matt Frattin, both sidelined with knee injuries.