J.T. Miller scored one goal and set up another in the first period, then the Vancouver Canucks relied on goaltender Thatcher Demko to defeat the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 Saturday night.
The Leafs outshot the Canucks 53-24 but lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since October.
Nursing a one-goal lead in the third, Demko stopped William Nylander on a breakaway, then blocked an Ilya Mikheyev shot.
Brock Boeser on the power play and Juho Lammikko, with a big goal late in the second, also scored for the Canucks (22-21-6).
Miller has 19 points (8-11) in his last 17 games.
Auston Matthews and Ondrej Kase scored power-play goals for the Leafs (30-12-3) who lost 5-2 in Calgary Thursday night.
Goalie Petr Mrazek stopped 21 shots for Toronto.
Thatcher Demko becomes just 5th goalie in #Canucks history to make 50-or-more saves. His 51 saves was 1 shy of tying the club record that's been in place since @Canucks 1st @NHL season.
The other @canucksalumni goalies with 50 or more saves? pic.twitter.com/RaoNhtZKYN
— Joey Kenward (@kenwardskorner) February 13, 2022
The game pitted the Toronto power play, ranked first in the league, against a Canucks penalty kill rated the worst.
A load contingent of Toronto fans chatted “go Leafs go” during the game at Rogers Arena, which was only half full due to COVID-19 restrictions. Canuck fans responded with chants of “Leafs suck.”
Down 2-0 after the first period, the Leafs battled back to tie the game with power-play goals 2:55 apart in the second, only to have Vancouver go ahead 3-2 late in the period.
After looking average in the first period, the Leafs pressured the Canucks in the second, outshooting Vancouver 23-7.
It took Toronto just 25 seconds to capitalize after Bo Horvat was sent off for high-sticking. After Demko stopped a Nylander shot John Tavares passed the rebound to Matthews who scored his 15th goal in 18 games at 12:46.
The Leafs struck again less than three minutes later. With Canucks defenceman Luke Schenn off for tripping, Kase deflected a Jason Spezza shot past Demko.
The Canucks regained the lead when Lammikko slid a rebound under Mrazek at 18:30.
The game was barely 90 seconds old when Miller scored on a play that left Mrazek seeing red. He stopped Horvat who was slicing in front of the net but the Canucks captain’s stick looked to spin the Leafs goalie around. Miller put the rebound in an empty net.
Mrazek argued but Toronto didn’t challenge the play.
Boeser made it 2-0 at 6:00 after Toronto’s Pierre Engvall was called for high-sticking. He put in the rebound off a shot through traffic from Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
The Leafs came close in the dying seconds of the period when Tavares banged a shot off the post.
NOTES: Demko made his 35th start, fifth among NHL goalies. … Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes missed his third consecutive game due to COVID-19 protocols. … Toronto forward Wayne Simmonds returned to the lineup after missing the loss in Calgary to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. … Vancouver defenceman Travis Hamonic played after missing 21 games with an ankle injury. … The last time Toronto lost back-to-back games in regulation was Oct. 22 and Oct. 25.
THE CANADIAN PRESS
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