Canucks rally with big third period to beat Maple Leafs 6-4
TORONTO (AP) — Alex Chiasson had the go-ahead score in Vancouver’s three-goal third period, Thatcher Demko made 34 saves and the Canucks rallied to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-4 on Saturday night.
J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, Travis Hamonic and Tanner Pearson each had goal and an assist for Vancouver, and Tyler Motte scored into an empty net. Bo Horvat added two assists as Vancouver moved within three points of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
“That’s one of the games you’re going to remember,” Miller said. “Every game feels like a do or die for us. You don’t want to be in that position, but you’ve got to embrace it.”
The Canucks overcame another big game by Auston Matthews, who scored two goals to give him an NHL-leading 39 this season. John Tavares had a goal and an assist, and Nick Robertson also scored for the Leafs, who got 23 stops from Jack Campbell.
“Confidence is a big thing,” Horvat said. “We’re confident in our ability. We know what type of team we are, and what type of team we have to be.”
Toronto led 4-3 after two periods, but Vancouver responded 63 seconds into the third when Pearson squeezed his 12th through Campbell on a tip.
Vancouver then took the lead at 6:55 on a broken play during which Mitch Marner lost his stick in Toronto’s zone. Horvat threw a puck in front that the Leafs winger tried to kick away with his skate, but it dropped for Chiasson to snap his sixth past Campbell.
“I’ve got (to be) better for the team,” said Campbell, whose save percentage dipped to .882 since Jan. 1. “It’s disappointing not getting the win when we played so well.
“I promise I’ll get out of it and get on a roll again.”
Toronto’s top-ranked power play got a chance to tie midway through the period when Canucks defenseman Luke Schenn was whistled for delay of game, but Demko was there to deny William Nylander on the Leafs’ best opportunity.
Demko then denied Matthews on the doorstep with three minutes left in regulation and Marner with Campbell on the bench for an extra attacker before Motte iced it with 19.7 seconds left.
“It gives us that much more belief,” Miler said. “We have a good thing going right now.”
The Canucks went up 3-1 at 4:12 of the second period on a power play when Boeser scored his 16th off the rebound of Miller’s initial shot.
Toronto responded 1:21 later when Robertson — elevated to the second line in his fourth game since being recalled from the AHL — took a pass from Nylander and fired his first regular-season goal past Demko.
The Vancouver goaltender, who made a career-high 51 saves in the Canucks’ 3-2 victory over Toronto on Feb. 12, then denied Wayne Simmonds — playing in his 1,000th career regular-season game — with a stop at full stretch.
Sitting third in the Atlantic Division, the Leafs kept pushing before an under-pressure Boeser threw an ill-advised clearing attempt up the middle that Matthews stunningly one-timed upstairs for his 38th to tie it at 8:52.
Matthews, who attempted a Michigan lacrosse-style move earlier in the period, scored his second of the night on another one-timer that went off Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes and past a stick-less Demko at 12:06 to make it 4-3 through 40 minutes.
Vancouver opened the scoring at 7:48 of the first when Miller was quickest to a loose puck to bury his 22nd.
Toronto responded just over two minutes later when the Maple Leafs power play, which had gone seven contests without scoring, took advantage of a bad decision by Hamonic in the neutral zone that led to a 3-on-1. Marner fed Tavares, who scored his 18th – and first in 15 games – before looking skyward in relief.
Hamonic’s point shot late in the first went in off Leafs defenseman T.J. Brodie for the Vancouver blue-liner’s second to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead.
NOTES: Miller extended his point streak to nine games. … Marner’s point streak stands at six games. … Robertson scored his first professional goal for Toronto in the 2020 postseason bubble.
Canucks: Host the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.
Maple Leafs: Visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night.
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