Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby (49) stops Toronto Maple Leafs centre John Tavares (91) during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby (49) stops Toronto Maple Leafs centre John Tavares (91) during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Canucks end miserable NHL road trip with 3-1 loss in Toronto

Leafs hand Vancouver a fifth straight defeat

Auston Matthews extended his career-best goal streak to eight games with the winner midway through the third period before Alexander Kerfoot added some insurance just 11 seconds later as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Monday.

Morgan Rielly provided the rest of the offence for Toronto (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen made 31 saves as the Leafs woke from their two-period slumber to secure a three-game sweep of the spiralling Canucks. Mitch Marner added an assist to extend his point streak to eight games. Matthews’ point streak, meanwhile, now stands at 10 contests.

Elias Pettersson replied for Vancouver (6-10-0), which lost a fifth straight game in regulation to close out a miserable 1-5-0 road trip. Braden Holtby stopped 16 shots for the Canucks, who put in by far their best performance of the last week after losing the first two at Scotiabank Arena by a combined 12-4 scoreline, but still came up snake eyes.

The teams play six more times in the NHL’s abbreviated season, with the next meetings set for March 4 and 6 in Vancouver.

Coming off Thursday’s 7-3 victory and Saturday’s 5-1 triumph, the Leafs looked like a shadow of their high-flying selves until Matthews scored his 11th goal of the campaign at 9:22 of the third period to snap a 1-1 tie. After winning an offensive zone faceoff, Toronto’s star centre took a pass from Marner in the slot and ripped a shot five-hole on Holtby.

Kerfoot, who was partially at fault on Vancouver’s goal, then took a pass from Ilya Mikheyev after he stole the puck from Quinn Hughes behind the Canucks’ net for his second just 11 seconds later.

Toronto is now 7-0-1 over its last eight to sit atop both the NHL and North Division standings.

The Leafs were minus gritty winger Wayne Simmonds, who suffered a broken wrist in the third period of Saturday’s 5-1 victory. The 32-year-old, who inked a deal with his hometown team in free agency, was held off the scoresheet in his first half-dozen appearances, but had five goals in his last six games — including two Saturday before the injury.

Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe elected to go with 11 forwards and seven defencemen, which meant sophomore blue-liner Rasmus Sandin saw his first game action in nearly 11 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canucks announced before puck drop forward Tyler Motte has been placed on injured reserve, while defenceman Olli Juolevi was recalled from the taxi squad and inserted into the lineup along with winger Jake Virtanen.

Holtby, who played consecutive games for the first time since signing with Vancouver in free agency, only faced seven shots through two periods against the sleepy Leafs, but had to be sharp early in the third, flailing his glove at a Rielly shot from the slot as Toronto showed a bit of life.

Coming off the best showing by a Canadian team during last season’s playoffs inside the Edmonton bubble that saw them reach the second round for the first time since 2011, the Canucks then killed off an Antoine Roussel penalty against the NHL’s best power play later in the period before Matthews and Kerfoot provided the winning margin.

J.T. Miller hit the post for Vancouver on a late power play, but that’s as close the visitors would come.

READ MORE: Red-hot Matthews scores 2 as Maple Leafs thump slumping Canucks 5-1

After a timid opening for both teams, the Leafs grabbed a 1-0 lead at 6:38 of the first following a Vancouver breakdown in the defensive zone. The sequence culminated with Canucks defenceman Nate Schmidt, who was in a battle with Zach Hyman in front, blindly kicking the puck right into an onrushing Rielly’s path for him to fire his second shortside on Holtby.

The bad news continued for the visitors when rookie winger Nils Hoglander was left bloodied after taking a puck to the face off the stick of teammate Jamie Benn.

Despite trailing on the scoreboard, Vancouver played by far its best period of the three-game set to that point, and came close to tying it up with Andersen stretched to rob Justin Bailey on a 2-on-1 with Tanner Pearson.

Holtby then made a big save on Rielly late in the period to keep his team only down by one as the Canucks took a 13-4 edge in shots to the locker rooms.

Playing a league-leading 16th contest in 27 days since the start of the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, Vancouver eventually got the equalizer on a power play at 9:59 of the second when Kerfoot couldn’t get the puck out of his zone. Hughes then found Pettersson, who had time and space to whip his fifth past Andersen.

Pettersson now has four goals and five assists in his last eight game after registering his two points in his first eight contests to open the campaign.

The Canucks carried play against the comatose Leafs, with Hoglander, who returned after the first intermission, coming close on a rebound chance before Pettersson’s breakthrough as Vancouver led 27-7 on the shot clock through 40 minutes.

Notes: Sandin picked up an assist. … The Leafs visit the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday for the first of two meetings this week before the teams play again Saturday at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday. … The Canucks open a four-game set against the Calgary Flames — including three at Rogers Arena — beginning Thursday.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

CanucksNHLTorontoVancouver

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

Okanagan high school girls volleyball players Georgia MacLean of Lake Country’s George Elliot Secondary (from left), Olivia Pederson of Vernon Christian School, Kassidy Schaper-Kotter of Vernon Secondary and Makenna Lane from W.L. Seaton Secondary have signed to play college volleyball with Abbotsford’s Columbia Bible College. (File photos)
Fraser Valley college inks quartet of Okanagan recruits

Columbia Bible College Bearcats in Abbotsford sign four players to women’s volleyball squad

Items seized by Chilliwack RCMP and Abbotsford Police during a Feb. 23 traffic stop. (RCMP photo)
Police from Chilliwack and Abbotsford seize drugs in traffic stop

Chilliwack RCMP worked with the Abbotsford PD to seize four kilograms of suspected fentanyl

(Black Press file photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for man who tried to grab boy near Robertson elementary school

A man in a parked minivan reached out the driver side window as a young boy passed by

Hope’s station house, moved from its original location along the railroad to 111 Old Hope Princeton Way. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

Photo: Surrey RCMP
Surrey RCMP arrests two boys, age 16, during dial-a-dope investigation in Whalley

Sergeant Elenore Sturko said one boy is ‘alleged to have been in possession of a loaded handgun at the time of his arrest’

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

Emergency crews are on scene at Walnut Grove Secondary School after a report of a bomb threat at Walnut Grove Secondary School on March 3, 2021. The school was safely evacuated. (Shane MacKichan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
UPDATE: Bomb threat forces evacuation of Langley high school

Police asked the public to avoid 88th Avenue and Walnut Grove Drive

Most Read