On a dramatic, feisty evening at Rogers Arena, the Canucks utilized two power play goals and battled their way to a 6-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Vancouver has points in 18 of their last 20 games.
Thatcher Demko started in net for the Canucks with North Vancouver native Martin Jones between the pipes for Toronto. Demko is now 5-and-0 at home against the Maple Leafs. Vancouver defenceman Carson Soucy left the game after two periods.
The “Go Leafs Go” chants started immediately as the electric atmosphere in the stands matched the early pace on the ice. The Canucks had the best chances in the early moments.
It took just 3:06 for Vancouver to cash in with Nils Höglander backhanding home a Quinn Hughes rebound. It was “Hoagie’s” 13th of the season, matching his career high.
Less than three minutes later, two-nothing Höglander. This time with a perfect wrist shot from the left wing circle over Jonesy’s short-side shoulder. The young Swede stole the show in the first.
The Maple Leafs picked up a chance to get right back into it with Canucks D-man Nikita Zadorov going off for interference at 6:31. The Vancouver penalty kill disrupted the Toronto power play enough to prevent the Maple Leafs from getting a shot-on-goal on the man advantage.
Shortly after, Leafs forward Tyler Bertuzzi had a great point-blank chance at even strength that Demko spun aside.
Off a brief scramble at 12:58, Canucks winger Conor Garland made it 3-0 by snapping a loose puck past a defenceman and over the shoulder of Jones.
The Maple Leafs were discombobulated, the Canucks were in command.
The Maple Leafs had some early shots generated, but created no traffic in front. Without it, saves are a piece of cake for Demko.
That changed at 4:53, but ironically it was big Canucks D-man Tyler Myers creating the screen. William Nylander gained the Vancouver zone, stopped, spun, and fired a point shot past the 6-foot-7 defender and over the glove of Demko to put the Maple Leafs on the board.
Just 2:33 later, Toronto would make it a brand new hockey game when on the rush Auston Matthews centered high slot to Mitch Marner, who fired a pass low, left side to defenceman Jake McCabe, who jumped into the play and tapped home a goal to cut it to 3-2.
Less than a minute later the Maple Leafs would tie it. Nylander tallied his 2nd goal of the night and the 200th of his career by firing a shot from the right circle past Demko short side. The puck changed direction when it deflected off D-man Soucy’s stick.
Not long after, during a crease scramble, Toronto almost made it 4-3, but Bertuzzi was in an awkward position and was forced to kick the puck in and the goal was waved off.
The Canucks played the entire period on their heels. It took a feisty shift from Garland and friends to snap the trend. With exactly one minute remaining, Garland capitalized on some sustained offensive zone time and chipped home his second goal of the game and his fifth in the last nine games.
Shots were 18-6 in favour of Toronto in the 2nd. The last seven minutes of the period were extremely chippy, setting up a delightful 3rd period.
Just to add another ripple to an already very entertaining evening, Mitch Marner scored on a shorthanded breakaway at the 3:13 mark to tie the game 4-4. That, just moments after he had sacrificed his body by blocking a slapper from the point.
At 6:19 the Canucks would get another power play when Max Domi went off for cross checking Brock Boeser. This time Vancouver would capitalize with J.T. Miller deflecting in a slap/pass from Hughes. The puck went in off his right skate while he was turned backwards, positioned perfectly at the right side of the crease.
The Vancouver momentum and pressure mounted. They’d earn yet another power play at 9:50 when Mark Giordano went off for cross checking and they’d score when Miller found Elias Pettersson alone in front of the net for an easy deflection. The Canucks again had a two-goal cushion.
Toronto picked up a man advantage at 11:20. Filip Hronek went off for high sticking. The Maple Leafs failed to click.
They’d fail again with their goalie pulled and a set of power plays tacked on in the final minute.
Shots on goal finished 46-21 in favour of the Maple Leafs. Power plays: Toronto 0-for-5, Vancouver 2-for-3.
Canucks 3 Stars:
1) Conor Garland – Two goals, an assist, a hit and three shots-on-goal.
2) Quinn Hughes – Controlled the flow as usual and finished with three assists. 21:20 in ice time.
3) Nils Höglander – Two goals in the first period set the stage. Got a lot done in 10:50 of ice time.