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

Dianna Plouffe, right, with Mayor Gladys Atrill in front of Town Hall following the announcement she will be the new CAO> (Facebook photo)
Director of corporate services named Smithers CAO

Dianna Plouffe replaces Alan Harris who is retiring at the end of April

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Volunteer Robbie McKnight works the screening table at the Coast Mountain College COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)
UPDATE Smithers clinic expands vaccine eligibility to ages 55+

Community members born in 1966 or earlier can now register and will be notified when they can book

Pembina Prince Rupert Terminal shipped its first vessel full of liquefied petroleum gas on April 9, just less than three years after breaking ground at the re-purposed pulp mill site on Watson Island.
Pembina ships first vessel of LPG out of Prince Rupert

More than $12 million spent to repurpose Watson Island for the LPG export facility

Styrofoam burning at the Woodmere Tree Nursery in Telka created billowing black smoke over Tyhee Lake and resulted in air quality advisory for Bulkley Valley. (Contributed photo)
VIDEO: Telkwa styrofoam fire air quality advisory lifted

A woodpile fire at Woodmere Tree Nursery spread to styrofoam blocks causing air quality concerns

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

Most Read