Tue, 31 Mar 2020

Visiting Canucks looking to strike first vs. Leafs

Field Level Media
29 Feb 2020, 10:25 GMT+10

The Vancouver Canucks will be trying to change the script when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

The Canucks have allowed the first goal in each of the first two games of their four-game road trip.

They overcame the early disadvantage Tuesday and rallied to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in overtime. But Vancouver could not overcome the early deficit Thursday in a 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

The Canucks also will be out to avenge a 4-1 home loss to the Maple Leafs on Dec. 10.

Against Ottawa, right winger Tyler Toffoli scored for the third consecutive game (totaling four goals during that span) for the Canucks, who are 4-2-1 in their past seven games.

"We had a really, really good opportunity and not what we wanted to do," Toffoli said.

"It doesn't matter what team we're playing," said Canucks center J.T. Miller, who also scored. "Playing on the road, 20 games to go, need two points. Too many Grade A (chances) to give up. Against an NHL team, they're going to make you pay, no matter what."

"It was kind of a weird game," Canucks coach Travis Green said. "I felt like we came out and we were better to start the game (Thursday), yet we were down 2-0. So now you're chasing the game."

Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko took responsibility for Ottawa's first goal, a shot that went between his arm and body in the first period.

"I need to look at the film to see what I could do differently, but I need to stop that one," Demko said. "I thought I had it and when I looked back, it was behind me."

Ottawa scored again 30 seconds later.

The Maple Leafs are returning from a successful two-game trip. They defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Tuesday and overcame a two-goal, first-period deficit to defeat the Florida Panthers 5-3 on Thursday.

The victories were especially important to help erase the humiliation of a 6-3 home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes last Saturday. Both Carolina goaltenders were injured during the game and emergency replacement David Ayres -- a Zamboni driver and part-time practice goalie for the Leafs -- played nearly half the game to get the win.

The Maple Leafs will be without Jake Muzzin for about four weeks after the defenseman suffered a broken hand in the game Tuesday. Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe had seven defensemen in his lineup Thursday.

"In the early going, especially with the seventh defenseman, we were trying to find the right mix and what the mix is going to be and how it's going to flow," Keefe said. "I think when you go with the seven defense like that, you just sort of let it evolve. You can't make too much of a plan, you've just got to kind of see. I think it took a little bit of time for that to settle and that helped our team once we did settle it down. The big thing I'll take away from the game, of course, is just how we didn't fold."

Maple Leafs right winger William Nylander scored what proved to be the winning goal in the third period on Thursday and has points (three goals, three assists) in five consecutive games. He leads the team with seven game-winning goals.

--Field Level Media

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