Toronto Maple Leafs surrender three third period goals in loss against Vancouver Canucks
By Neil Becker
The day after getting a vote of confidence from his general manager Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs starting goalie Jack Campbell did nothing to silence his critics.
Campbell, who on February 27th, was pulled in the third after surrendering five goals on 25 shots in a wild 10-7 road win against the Detroit Red Wings, had a chance at redemption on Saturday night but couldn’t make that strong statement in what was a 6-4 loss at Scotiabank Arena against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Leafs, who on Wednesday, March 2nd. dropped a 5-1 home decision against the Buffalo Sabres, had on Saturday night 17,534 fans at Scotiabank Area in what was a special night for fourth-line forward Wayne Simmonds who was honored before playing Vancouver in what was his 1,000th NHL game.
Despite the Leafs losing, there were some positives on this night such as captain John Tavares looking up to the heavens in relief after a first-period power-play goal which snapped a 14- game scoring drought. The second-longest of his career.
Other Leafs positives included forward Nicholas Robertson scoring his first NHL goal and of course power forward Auston Matthews scoring his 38th and 39th goals this season, which put him one in front of Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl in the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy race.
However, the big picture remains goaltending especially given the fact that Campbell has now given up at least four goals in his past six games.
The Canucks, who were on the last stop of a four-game road swing, got a gutsy 34 save performance from the game’s number one star in goaltender Thatcher Demko. One of his many highlight-reel saves included sliding over and robbing Leafs forward Simmonds who on his special night was absolutely robbed on an odd-man break.
Early on, Toronto found themselves playing from behind as Canucks forward J.T. Miller, who has been the subject of trade rumors, scored at 7:48 of the first for a 1-0 lead. The Leafs, who had 38 shots in regulation, got some much-need momentum when just shy of 10 minutes in, Tavares and his teammates celebrated after he successfully broke that goal drought with his 18th of the year to make it a brand news game.
That momentum wouldn’t last long as Vancouver once again leap-frogged out front as veteran defenceman Travis Hamonic, with only 30 seconds left in the first scored which, following a Canucks power-play goal just over four minutes into the second by Brock Boeser had them enjoying a 3-1 lead.
Getting on a role was the Leafs offense as they struck for three straight goals in under a nine-minute span. Starting the rally was Robertson scoring his first regular-season career goal at 5:33 of the second, which was followed by consecutive tallies from Matthews, whose second goal, which was his league-leading 39th coming just past the 12- minute mark and gave Toronto a 4-3 lead heading to the third.
With 27 games remaining, there is a buzz of anticipation among Leafs fans as Matthews seems a lock to hit the 50- goal plateau and quite possibly 60.
In the third period, Demko couldn’t be beat as he proved perfect in continuously frustrating Toronto shooters by stopping every single one of the 16 shots.
Vancouver, who were looking to go 3-1 on their four-game road trip, got third-period goals from Tanner Pearson with his 12th, at the 63 seconds mark which tied things up before getting the eventual winner from forward Alex Chiasson with his sixth. The Leafs, who now found themselves trailing 5-4, pulled the goalie with a little over two minutes remaining, but the move ended up backfiring as Canucks forward Tyler Motte scored the insurance marker with 20 seconds remaining in regulation into an open net.
The Leafs would go on to lose their second in a row and now find themselves trailing the Atlantic Division-leading Florida Panthers by five points.
Toronto will next see action on Monday, March 7th at Nationwide Arena with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m. against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
7:48 J.T. Miller (22) 1 – 0
Tanner Pearson (15), Travis Hamonic (3)
9:49 PPG- John Tavares (18) 1 – 1
Mitch Marner (35), Morgan Rielly (39)
19:30 Travis Hamonic (2) 2 – 1
Brad Hunt (8), Bo Horvat (15)
4:12 PPG- Brock Boeser (16) 3 – 1
J.T. Miller (41), Quinn Hughes (40)
5:33 Nicholas Robertson (1) 3 – 2
William Nylander (29), John Tavares (34)
8:52 Auston Matthews (38) 3 – 3
12:06 Auston Matthews (39) 3 – 4
Timothy Liljegren (11), Michael Bunting (20)
1:03 Tanner Pearson (12)
Tyler Myers (13), Brock Boeser (17)
6:55 Alex Chiasson (6) 5 – 4
Bo Horvat (16), Vasily Podkoizin (6)
19:40 EN Tyler Motte (7)
Elias Pettersson (22), Oliver Ekman Larsson (13)