Canucks score back-to-back short-handed goals in 3rd period to beat Maple Leafs
The Vancouver Canucks know they’re not going to the playoffs this year, but Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs gave the team a taste of what it’s like to play a meaningful game in March.
“That was a good one. Fun one start to finish,” said goalie Thatcher Demko, who stopped 36 shots in the victory.
Even if the Canucks are out of contention, the way they play still matters, said head coach Rick Tocchet.
“It’s not just play out 20 games and let’s wait for next year. These are important games,” he said. “Everyday we come in we’re trying to become a team that we want to be, and we can’t waste practices you can’t waste games.”
Special teams proved to be the difference maker Saturday.
Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller each scored and notched an assist for the Canucks (25-32-5) during a Leafs’ power play.
WATCH | Pettersson, Miller sink Maple Leafs with short-handed goals:
Vancouver’s Andrei Kuzmenko found the back of the net on a man advantage in the second period, and Nils Aman put away the game’s lone even strength goal in the third. Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes each contributed a pair of helpers for the home side.
The Leafs (38-17-8) got a power-play goal from John Tavares and Matt Murray made 20 saves for Toronto in his return from an ankle injury.
“You’re torn, right? Because you come out in the third period and your power play scores you a huge goal and gets you going in the game, and then obviously lets you down the next time out. So you’re torn on that one,” said Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe.
With the score level at 1-1 midway through the third period, Toronto got an opportunity to take the lead when Vancouver’s Phillip Di Giuseppe was called for high-sticking. But it was the Canucks who found the back of the net with a pair of short-handed goals 44 seconds apart.
Miller and Pettersson sparked the offensive outburst with a two-on-one. Miller sent Pettersson the puck at the hash marks and the Swedish centre popped it under Murray to put the Canucks up 2-1 at the 6:39 mark.
The Canucks came into matchup having killed off a league-worst 67.6 per cent of their penalties this season while the Leafs’s power play had capitalized on 25.1 per cent of their man advantages and was tied for third best in the NHL.
Improvements have been made to Vancouver’s penalty kill recently, said defenceman Tyler Myers.
“It’s such a fine line.” he said. “I think to be honest, I think we’re a little more patient when we need to be and we’re pressuring when we need to. I think our reads have been a little bit better. And I think our sacrifice to block shots has been a lot better.
“So we’ve just got to keep sticking with that mindset, keep going over it with each other with the video and just keep building off of it.”
Tavares levelled the score at 1-1 on a power play early in the third after Canucks’ Myers was called for hooking.
William Nylander sliced a pass across the low slot — sending the puck through the legs of Vancouver defenceman Noah Juulsen — to the Leafs captain and Tavares popped it in behind Demko for his 28th goal of the season 1:32 into the period.
Toronto was one-for-four with the man advantage Saturday while Vancouver was one-for-three.
The Leafs’ play has been “a little up and down” lately, Tavares said.
“We’ve put some really good stretches together over the last few weeks,” he said. “But obviously we want to keep building momentum here, especially off of good efforts, good results, so something we need to be better at.”
Newly acquired Leafs centre Ryan O’Reilly was hit in the arm with a shot late in the second period and did not return for the third.
Keefe said the team is waiting to see how serious the injury is.
Toronto appeared to be in danger of losing Matthews late in the first period after the star centre took a Juulsen slap shot off the inside of his right knee.
He struggled to get up, then stayed on the ice on his hands and knees for several moments and was examined by a trainer before he limped to the locker room.
Matthews returned midway through the second period, but said after the game that he was still hurting.
“I tried to grind my way through it,” he said. “I mean, it didn’t feel too great but felt fine to play.”
The Canucks continue a six-game homestand Monday against the Nashville Predators, while the Maple Leafs visit the Devils in New Jersey on Tuesday.
Player grades: Edmonton Oilers survive scrambly affair in Arizona, pull out 5-4 win – Edmonton Journal
Edmonton Oilers travel regimen on Monday night: take the two points and get the heck out of Dodge.
It was a scrambly affair in cramped Mullett Arena, where a clear majority of the 4,600 spectators seemed to be rooting for the visiting team. For the second time in the last week, the Oilers were in tough to shake the pesky Coyotes. This time they managed to get the job done in regulation, but not without a few nervous moments down the stretch as Arizona pressed but failed to overcome Edmonton’s 5-4 lead.
The Oilers had seemed fully in control with a 4-2 lead after a dominant second period, but that went away in the first 5 minutes of the third. The Oilers managed just a single Grade A shot in that final frame, but Ryan Nugent-Hopkins buried that shot on the powerplay to put them back in front by the enventual winning margin.
If the stats are to be believed, this was a stolen win by the Oilers, who were outshot 33-29 and on the short end of Grade A shots by a 19-13 margin, including 10-6 in 5-alarm shots (running count). In each player’s comment we’ll record his individual contributions to Grade A shots (GAS) at both ends of the sheet.
#2 Evan Bouchard, 7. Strong on the attack. Scored the 2-2 goal at even strength on an excellent shot, later set up the game winner on the powerplay with a one-timer that created a dangerous rebound. Perhaps his best play was a lovely delayed stretch pass that sent his partner Ekholm in on a breakaway. Not your standard D-to-D pass. Did have a couple of adventures on defence, wandering way out of position and getting burned for a breakaway that Campbell stopped, later losing a battle in the low slot that resulted in the 4-4. Now has 12 points in 13 games since the big trade on Feb 28. GAS: +3/-4.
#5 Cody Ceci, 4. His lost battle was a key element on the second Arizona tally. Otherwise largely held his own. GAS: +0/-1.
#10 Derek Ryan, 5. Quiet night with 0 shots and just 1/6=17% on the dot. Decent on the penalty kill. GAS: +0/-1.
#14 Mattias Ekholm, 7. Played a team-high 24:56 on what was the club’s most effective pairing. Unlucky that the second Arizona goal caromed in off him. Burned on another ‘yotes chance when his hard clearing pass hit a sign on the boards and just died, one of many funky bounces in the old barn Arizona now calls home. Won more than his share of battles, including a couple that set up McDavid’s 2 best chances of the game, both in the first period. Robbed on a breakaway of his own on a full stretch stop by Karel Vejmelka. Also robbed of an assist on Draisaitl’s goal when his pass was deflected from its intended recipient directly to the goal scorer, without possession ever being achieved. Played 24:58 to lead both teams, including 23:01 at even strength. Excellent shot shares. GAS: +4/-4.
#18 Zach Hyman, 6. His biggest contribution was finishing off a 5-way passing play just 6 seconds into Edmonton’s first powerplay to tie the game 1-1. Another great chance off a Nurse feed, but couldn’t bury. A couple of issues in defensive coverage. GAS: +2/-3.
#19 Devin Shore, 4. Scoreless in almost 10 minutes, not a bad outcome. Not his best night handling the puck, though. GAS: +0/-0
#21 Klim Kostin, 6. A decent shot on net, a couple of shot blocks, a couple of hits, and a positive influence overall. GAS: +1/-0.
#25 Darnell Nurse, 6. His big moment was scoring the shorthanded goal that gave the Oilers their first lead, joining the rush as a trailer, taking Yamamoto’s drop pass, and overpowering Vejmelka with a wrist shot. Made a great pass to Hyman for another 5-alarm shot. Allowed an outside shot on the sequence that resulted in Arizona’s third goal, and was a better door than window in screening Campbell on a couple of other shots (both stopped). 4 shots, 2 blocks. GAS: +2/-4.
#26 Mattias Janmark, 6. Started the game on the McDavid line, but soon moved down to a bottom-6 trio with Bjugstad and Foegele which was highly effective. Did get burned on a bad pinch on the first Arizona goal, but made up for it with a strong charge to the net front as a decoy on Nurse’s shorty. GAS: +2/-1.
#27 Brett Kulak, 5. His pairing with Desharnais had its struggles at even strength and were badly outshot (+3/-10 in Kulak’s 14 minutes at 5v5), and were dominated in Grade A shots. Managed to saw off 0-0 where it mattered most. Kulak mustered a couple of shots, a hit and a takeaway. GAS: +0/-4.
#29 Leon Draisaitl, 7. Entered the game tied with McDavid and Kane, each with 299 goals. Won the race to 300 when he scored on his only official shot of the game, surprising Vejmelka with a quick-release outside shot through traffic. This after finding iron on a great look from the slot on his previous shift. Set up the game winner by teeing up Bouchard’s one-timer in the third. Also won the powerplay faceoff that led directly to Oilers’ first goal, whough no point awarded on that one. Now up to 46-68-114 on the season, 26 points behind McDavid but 12 clear of third-place Nikita Kucherov. Led the Oilers with 2 blocked shots and with 13/23=57% on the faceoff dot. GAS: +5/-6.
#36 Jack Campbell, 5. Another frenetic night that saw him allow at least 4 goals in his seventh straight start. On the bright side, his teammates have scored at least 4 in his last sixteen starts, and once again on this night scored 1 more than they gave up. Campbell was beaten by a pair of first-period deflections, both of which found a hole between his arm and body. His bigger problem was rebound control, with numerous pucks trampolining off of him back into the slot or in unexpected directions that left him scrambling. This proved especially costly on the third Arizona goal, and arguably the fourth as well. Did face 19 Grade A shots (4 of them off his own bad rebounds) and came up with a number of good stops. Stiffened down the stretch and managed to contain the puck for a couple of key stoppages in the late going. 33 shots, 29 saves, .879 save percentage.
#37 Warren Foegele, 7. Another strong game with dominant shot shares (+13/-3 in shot attempts, +7/-1 in actual shots) on a strong trio with Bjugstad and Janmark. His fine pass to Bouchard was buried for the 2-2. Now had 13 points in his last 19 games. 3 shots on net, the best a quick wraparound that nearly cashed. GAS: +3/-0.
#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 5. Quiet game with 0 shots and 0 hits. Whiffed entirely on his best look, wasting a nice set up by Ekholm. Did find a way to contribute with a nice rush and pass to Nurse on the penalty kill that resulted in the 3-2 goal. GAS: +2/-0.
#72 Nick Bjugstad, 7. Became one of the first NHLers to experience Mullett Arena as both a home and away player. Certainly looked right at home with a very strong effort. Skated extremely well. Earned a secondary assist on the Bouchard goal. Fired 3 shots of his own (6 attempts) and also landed 3 hits, with a takeaway and a block and 5/10=50% on the dot. GAS: +2/-2.
#73 Vincent Desharnais, 4. Had his struggles in this one. Managed to saw off 0-0 at evens, despite being penned in his own end for much of his 12 even strength minutes. Was in the box for the Arizona powerplay goal, albeit for something of a ticky-tack holding penalty. GAS: +0/-5.
#91 Evander Kane, 4. Skated better, producing 5 shot attempts (2 on net). Involved in the physical aspect, landing a team-high 4 hits. But all too frequently, the play died on his stick. Directly caused a too-many-men penalty when he chose to play the puck right at the player’s gate, even as his replacement had already taken the ice. Screened his own goalie and very likely deflected in the second Arizona goal. No points and -2 on the night. Now a dismal dash-9 on the season, the only current Oiler in red figures. GAS: +2/-3.
#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. Scored 1-1-2, doing all of that damage on the powerplay. His fine cross-seam pass to McDavid set the stage for the 1-1, while he took care of business himself cashing the 5-4 from the edge of the crease. That stood up as the game-winner. A couple of hiccups in the defensive zone but nothing costly. GAS: +4/-1.
#97 Connor McDavid, 5. A couple of early chances, and a great pass to Hyman on the PP for the 1-1, his 140th (!!!) point of the season. Gradually had less impact as the game went on. Beaten on the 4-3 when he wasn’t quite able to cut out the shot. Did land a couple of heavy hits and held his own on the dot at 7/13=54%. GAS: +3/-2.
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FTB: The Maple Leafs clinch – Pension Plan Puppets
It’s always fun when your team clinches without doing anything. The Maple Leafs were at home last night when the news broke that because some other team won or lost, they were officially in the playoffs.
So now that’s out of the way, the Leafs play the waiting game, oh and also eight more regular season games, one of which is against the Lightning, which will be the most interesting to watch, while for the others we simply hope no one is injured.
The next game is tomorrow against the Panthers here in Toronto.
We’re moving to our new home soon. You can sign up for early access here:
But don’t worry, you can also get in after we move on the weekend.
Hockey Canada rules 2018 junior players ineligible for international competition pending investigation – CBC
The statement comes hours after a parliamentary committee unanimously passed a motion ordering Hockey Canada to hand over a report from an investigation into the 2018 allegations.
Who are the top candidates for NHL coach, GM jobs? – ESPN
[SPECIES: ESPN reports that Maple Leafs assistant coach Craig Carberry is a hot commodity in the NHL coaching market.]
Voit’s playmaking skills put him in Sting’s record book – Observer
Ty Voit is so crafty with the puck, he keeps his own teammates guessing what he’s about to do.
[SPECIES: OK I cannot resist the pun on the Sarnia Sting and that headline so here we go:
[music] Every single day
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching Voit]
Now to be extra sure I have a 1980’s Sting song stuck in your head all day… here you go! Have a nice Tuesday.
Maple Leafs clinch playoff berth with Panthers loss to Senators
The Toronto Maple Leafs clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday.
The Maple Leafs (44-20-9), who clinched when the Florida Panthers lost 5-2 to the Ottawa Senators, are second in the Atlantic Division, 22 points behind the Boston Bruins and seven ahead of the third-place Tampa Bay Lightning.
It’s the seventh straight season Toronto has clinched a playoff berth. It hasn’t won a postseason series since 2004.
The Maple Leafs are led by forwards Mitchell Marner (94 points), William Nylander (81), Auston Matthews (77), and John Tavares (75). Ilya Samsonov is 24-9-3 with a 2.46 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and three shutouts in 36 games (35 starts). Matt Murray is 14-8-2 with a 2.97 GAA, .905 save percentage and one shutout in 25 games.
Toronto made several moves prior to the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline on March 3, acquiring forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari from the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 17, defenseman Jake McCabe and forward Sam Lafferty from the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 27, defenseman Erik Gustafsson from the Washington Capitals on Feb. 28 and defenseman Luke Schenn from the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 28.
O’Reilly is expected back before the playoffs begin April 17. He hasn’t played since getting hit in the hand by Matthews’ shot in the second period of a 4-1 loss at the Vancouver Canucks on March 4 and was projected to be out four weeks.
The Maple Leafs have won the Stanley Cup 11 times, once each as the Toronto Arenas (1917-18) and the Toronto St. Patricks (1921-22). They are without an NHL championship since 1967.
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