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.
Canadiens Forward Mike Hoffman Calls Out Department Of Safety
Montreal Canadiens forward Mike Hoffman is not a happy camper.
The 33-year-old forward took to Instagram to discuss the recent one-game suspension of Boston Bruins forward A.J. Greer.
Hoffman, freshly decorated with a gnarly battle scar after the ridiculous cross-check by Greer during Thursday night’s matchup between the Canadiens and the Bruins, expressed his concern with the lack of consistency from the NHL’s Department Of Player Safety.
“I’ve gotten a two-game suspension for cross-checking a guy in the back of the helmet,” said a wound-muffled Hoffman. “A full-blown, intentional cross-check to the face? One game. Hmmm.”
TALK YOUR SHIT MIKE 🗣️🗣️🗣️ pic.twitter.com/cPaXmjUQrY
— Habs Fan TV (@habsfantv_) March 24, 2023
Hoffman’s message was clear: the standard has dropped in recent years, especially if we compare the decision made on Friday to the decision made in 2016 when Hoffman was suspended for two games after his cross-check rode up Logan Couture’s back and hit him in the helmet.
That’s not to say Hoffman did not deserve a suspension. If anything, the ruling at the time was a step toward erring on the side of caution when brain injuries were in play, putting an onus on player safety in a spot that oftentimes forgets about the well-being of its employees.
Greer’s cross-check, on the other hand, was about as blatant as it gets, leaving a trail of blood behind the Canadiens forward as he quickly exited the ice.
There was some tomfoolery prior to the faceoff, perhaps even a little kerfuffle, but there’s no justifying a blatant cross-check which resulted in an injury.
By handing down a one-game suspension, the Department of Player Safety deemed Greer’s attack three times less severe than accidentally spitting on an opponent, which carries a three-game suspension in the NHL.
Hoffman returned to the game in the third period sporting a full birdcage, and though he did not miss significant time, he clearly did not appreciate the lack of safety provided by the NHL’s Department Of Misnomers.
Szeryk, Jutanugarn, Shin share lead at Superstition Mountain
GOLD CANYON, Ariz. (AP) — Jenny Shin of South Korea had a run of five straight birdies to close out her front nine on the way to a 5-under 67 on Friday and shared the lead with Maddie Szeryk of Canada and Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand after two rounds of the LPGA Drive on Championship.
Jutanugarn raced up the leaderboard, following an opening 67 with a bogey-free 7-under 65 that included an eagle and five birdies. Szeryk pieced together a round that included an eagle and six birdies, including one on her final hole, while Shin used seven birdies to offset two bogeys to get to 12-under 132 at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club in the LPGA’s first full-field event of the year.
American Lilia Vu shot a 6 under and was a stroke off the lead, while South Korea’s Na Rin An (67) and American Alison Lee (69) were tied for fifth place at 10 under.
No. 3-ranked Jin Young Ko, a winner two weeks ago in Singapore, had a second-round 65 and was among eight players tied for seventh place at 9 under on the crowded leaderboard.
The event marks the debut of the tour’s new cut policy. The cutline after 36 holes includes the top 65 players and ties advancing to the weekend. Previously, the top 70 players and ties advanced to the final rounds.
The cutline fell at 3 under, with 76 players advancing. Two of the big names missing the cut included three-time major winner Anna Nordqvist of Sweden and two-time major champion Brook Henderson of Canada, both at 1 under.
Shin, looking for her first win since 2016, overcame a sluggish bogey-birdie-par-bogey start to the second round and then went on a birdie tear on Nos. 14 through 18, her front nine, to get to 11 under. She went bogey free on her back nine and added a birdie at the par-4 third hole to get to 12 under.
Shin said she was surprised by unexpected swirling wind at the start of her round, and didn’t immediately realize her string of birdies.
“The bogey on the first hole didn’t help,” the 30-year-old said. “I was like, ‘Oh, no. Here we go again.’ I stayed calm. I try not to get in my head too much. … So I didn’t know I was doing five in a row until I just checked the scorecard. So it’s a good thing that I didn’t know.”
The highlight of Jutanugarn’s round was her eagle at No. 7, where she hit a good drive that finished on the cart path. After a drop, she got a favorable bounce on her second shot that settled on the back of the green, and she made the putt for an eagle 3.
“The next two days just trying to go out and have fun and do what I should do, what is under my control,” the 2013 rookie of the year and two-time tour winner said. “I think, of course, it’s more fun when you feel like you’re in contention.”
The 26-year-old Szeryk, in her second year on tour after a rookie campaign that included making five cuts in 14 events in 2022, sees being tied for the lead after 36 holes — and whatever follows — as a learning experience.
“It’s so amazing to be back in this position because I love being out here and I’m just so thankful to God to have another opportunity to be out here and to really compete with the best players, she said. “But I’m just on such a high.
“Just really excited for what the weekend has in store. … But it was great to see those putts go in and make those birdies coming down the stretch.”
Second-ranked Nelly Korda, the highest-ranked player in the field with No. 1 Lydia Ko not competing, followed an opening 70 with a 66 and was among those tied for 15th at 8 under.
Also at 8 under was Yuka Saso, but her route to a tie for 15th was highlighted by her first albatross, when she made a 2 on the 492-yard, par-5 second hole.
Saso used a hybrid from 217 yards ou t on her second shot and knew the approach was online with the pin.
“I mean, we didn’t really know where it landed and where it finishes, so we were just walking to the green and everyone started clapping,” she said. “But my ball wasn’t on the green so I was like, why are they clapping? Is it over? Why is everyone clapping if it’s not on the green?”
It turns out her playing partner, Sei Young Kim, looked into the hole and let her know it was in.
“It was one of my dreams to get one, but we all know how hard it is to get one,” Saso said. “They say you’re lucky if you ever get one in your golf career. I guess I was very lucky to have it.”
Bruins F Greer suspended one game for cross-checking Habs F Hoffman
Boston Bruins forward AJ Greer has been suspended one game by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for cross-checking Montreal Canadiens winger Mike Hoffman on Thursday night.
Boston’s A.J. Greer has been suspended for one game for Cross-checking Montreal’s Mike Hoffman. https://t.co/SZkcAlo8qk
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 24, 2023
The incident occurred in the first period of Thursday’s 4-2 Bruins win over the Canadiens when the two players were battling prior to a faceoff, which resulted in Greer cross-checking Hoffman in the face.
Greer received a five-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct, while Hoffman briefly left the game with an injury but returned in the second period.
Greer, 26, has five goals and 11 points in 52 games this season.
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