Canucks special teams ride in 4-1 win over Leafs

VANCOUVER – Back-to-back shorthanded goals propelled the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Elias Pettersson and JT Miller each scored and assisted for the Canucks (25-32-5) on a Leafs power play midway through the third period.

Andrei Kuzmenko and Nils Aman also found the back of the net for Vancouver, and Brock Boeser provided a pair of assists.

The Leafs (38-17-8) got their only goal from John Tavares on the power play early in the final period.

Thatcher Demko blocked 36 of 37 shots for Vancouver and Toronto’s Matt Murray made 20 saves in his first game since Jan. 17.

The 28-year-old Leafs goaltender has missed 17 games with an ankle injury.

Toronto fired Murray in favor of an extra forward with more than three minutes remaining on the game clock and Pettersson nearly added to the Canucks’ tally, unleashing a shot on the post.

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Vancouver sealed the score with the only even-strength goal of the game at 12:34 of the third.

Boeser spotted the unmanned Aman in the side of the Toronto net and put the puck on his boards. Aman tipped it, giving the Canucks a 4-1 cushion with his third goal of the season.

Toronto had the chance to take the lead midway through the third when Vancouver’s Phillip Di Giuseppe was called for a high stick, but it was Vancouver who found the back of the net with a pair of shorthanded goals at 44 seconds apart.

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Miller and Pettersson sparked the offensive explosion with a 2-on-1. Miller sent the puck to Pettersson at the hash marks and the Swedish center blasted it under Murray to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead at 6: 39.

The goal was Pettersson’s 29th of the campaign.

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Moments later, it was Pettersson who threw a long pass to Miller, who rounded Auston Matthews and sent a shot over Murray’s glove for his 21st goal of the season at 7:33 of the third.

Tavares tied the game at 1-1 on the power play early in the third after Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers was called for hanging.

William Nylander sliced ​​a pass into the low slot – sending the puck through the legs of Vancouver defenseman Noah Juulsen – to the Leafs captain and Tavares slotted it in behind Demko for his 28th goal of the season after 1:32 of play.

Toronto was 1-for-4 with a man advantage on Saturday while Vancouver was 1-for-3.

The Canucks broke the game’s drought with a power play goal at 17:51 after Morgan Rielly was called for holding.

Quinn Hughes fired a shot from the point and Kuzmenko, parked in the middle of the slot, got a piece of it, bouncing the puck past Murray for his 29th goal of the season.

Murray kept the Canucks off the board with a big save earlier in the period.

Conor Garland and Christian Woolanian broke through the Toronto defense on a 2-0, Garland sent Woolanian a clean pass into the top of the crease. The defender fired an instant shot, but Murray blocked his shot just to make the save.

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Demko kept the home team in the game for a first period that saw Toronto beat Vancouver 14-5.

The Leafs came within inches of the opener at 8:08 into the game when Nylander recovered a puck off Woolanin’s stick in the neutral zone and sprinted into Canucks territory on a breakaway, only to see Demko pull out his left pad to stop the ensuing shot. .

Toronto appeared to be in danger of losing Matthews late in the first period after the star center received a slapshot from Juulsen to the inside of his right knee.

Matthews struggled to get up, then remained on the ice on his hands and knees for several moments and was examined by a coach before hobbling to the locker room.

He came back midway through the second period.


Former Canucks defenseman Luke Schenn returned to Rogers Arena after Vancouver sent him to Toronto for a third-round draft pick on Tuesday. Highlights of the veteran blue-line stint in Vancouver were shown on the big screen midway through the first period, prompting batting from both benches and cheers from the crowd.


Canucks: Continue a six-game homestand on Monday against the Nashville Predators.

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Leafs: Visit the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 4, 2023.

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