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

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
Harrison woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Fraser Canyon Hospital, located at 1275 7th Avenue in Hope, is one of two local COVID-19 vaccination sites. Seniors over the age of 90 and First Nations elders and seniors are the first people eligible for vaccines; booking began on Monday, March 8, and administration begins on March 15. (Photo/Adam Louis)
ICYMI: Vaccine booking in Hope has begun

Seniors aged 90 and up, First Nations elders to be vaccinated next week

Once again Fraser East is among the health service delivery areas with the highest rate of COVID-19 transmission in the province. (Datawrapper)
Fraser East sees third highest rate of COVID-19 cases in B.C.

The region is seeing a sustained increase in new COVID-19 cases

Once a star player with the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team, Kayli Sartori is moving into a new role coaching the next generation of Cascades. (UFV photo)
Chilliwack’s Kayli Sartori goes from court to coach with UFV basketball Cascades

Sartori is taking a new path as part of the U-Sports female basketball apprentice coaching program

The Kimber family of Boston Bar lost their home in a fire. Blaine Kimber’s daughter created a fundraiser to help rebuild the home with the goal of $100,000. (Screenshot/GoFundMe)
Fundraiser created for Boston Bar family that lost everything in weekend fire

Witnesses say the Kimber family escaped the fire without injury, but their home is a total loss

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Some of the hundreds of pounds of trash removed by divers last month from Abbotsford’s Walmsley Lake.(Henry Wang photo)
VIDEO: Divers remove 462 pounds of trash from Abbotsford lake

Walmsley Lake dive uncovers several tires, hundreds of drink containers and a tent

Trent Miner is returning to the Vancouver Giants, the team announced. He has been released by the Colorado Eagles of the AHL.(Rik Fedyck/Vancouver Giants)
Trent Miner returns to play goal for Vancouver Giants

Netminder was part of epic 11-game winning-streak by Langley-based team

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complains about that condo

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

Most Read