VANCOUVER – The blood was still oozing through three stitches across the bridge of Alexandre Burrows' swollen nose, leaving a red stain that zigzagged down his cheek and onto his neck. It ran right past a big smile.
Despite the bloody nose, Burrows had plenty of reasons to grin after scoring twice on Saturday. So did his linemates, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who broke out of a rare slump by combining with Burrows for three goals and 10 points in a 6-2 romp over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Rogers Arena.
"Yeah it's always extra-special," Burrows said of playing against a team he grew up in Montreal hating. "They are a team I watched a lot of games as a kid against the Maple Leafs, always cheered for my Habs, so it's nice to beat them."
Burrows and the Canucks have done a lot of it the last nine years. Vancouver has now beaten the Maple Leafs 10 straight times, a streak that dates back to 2003 and includes eight goals and 15 points for Burrows.
The Canucks' current run against the rest of the NHL is almost as impressive, a 9-0-3 stretch that has them back within two points of Detroit atop the Western Conference. Much of it has come with the Sedin twins struggling to find the form that saw them split the last two Art Ross Trophies as the League's top scorers.
Henrik dropped from first to eighth in NHL scoring while managing just six points the previous12 games, and Daniel had fallen outside the top-10 with the same point total – though he had five goals to Henrik's one – during that stretch.
The Sedins managed four points each against Toronto Saturday.
"We didn't play our best for a month, a month and a half, and that's something we had to change," said Daniel, who had a goal and three assists to Henrik's four helpers. "We played better the last few games and hadn't got the results. But tonight a few of them went in."
That it happened against Toronto is no surprise.
"There's just more room out there and if you play well defensively there are going to be chances the other way," Burrows said of the Leafs' style. "They like to get on the offense so there's more room in the neutral zone, more room in the offensive zone and we were able to make them pay."
Burrows scored his second goal 3:18 into the second period to give the Canucks a 3-0 lead. Then, after Dion Phaneuf put the Leafs on the board, Henrik set up Daniel to make it 4-1 before the twins combined to set up Sami Salo's power-play goal before the period was over, chasing Toronto goaltender James Reimer.
"You can't fault James," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said of Reimer, who stopped 14 of 18. "They had a number of 2-on-1s when we pinched. Those are things you talk about before the game, knowing who you're playing against: No turnovers. They don't need a lot to make you pay and tonight they made us pay."
Manny Malhotra and Kevin Bieksa also scored – the former on a diving effort – for the Canucks, who still needed Roberto Luongo to make a handful of timely show-stoppers among his 24 saves to extend their run against Toronto.
Luongo's best came with the score still 3-1, a stretch that included a diving blocker to take an empty net away from Joffrey Lupul and a glove on the goal line after Phil Kessel partially whiffed on another wide-open cage a couple minutes later.
"That finished the game off," said Daniel, who was left alone at the hash marks to make it 4-1 less than a minute later after Clarke MacArthur stepped on the puck breaking out his end and turned it over to Henrik.
That ended Reimer's night, but Jonas Gustavssson didn't fare better, with MacArthur in the penalty box on his next shift and the Sedins setting up Salo for his first goal since Dec. 8 shortly after replacing Reimer.
The Maple Leafs, who also got a goal from Nikolai Kulemin with 19.2 seconds, have lost five of six and are now clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, just one point ahead of Washington and two up on Winnipeg as they try to end an eight-year postseason drought.
"To be completely honest with you there's no panic in our room," said Phaneuf, Toronto's captain. "Are we concerned about not playing well today? Yeah. Are we going to look at it and learn form it? Yeah, but there's no panic. They're a really good team. They've got a lot of offensive punch and when you give up opportunities to a team that's got really highly skilled guys, they are going to make you pay and that's what happened. When they get the opportunities, their skill guys put the puck in the net. We made too many mistakes and it cost us."
It started early.
Vancouver outshot the Leafs 11-4 in the opening period, and the score could have been worse if not for a right-pad robbery by Reimer to take an empty net tap-in away from Henrik Sedin late on. But the Toronto ‘tender had little chance when Daniel Sedin sent Burrows in alone with a perfect 2-on-1 feed, a play that started with Burrows feeding Sedin out of his own zone and beating Keith Aulie to the other end before snapping the return pass under Reimer's glove.
Vancouver's fourth line struck a couple shifts later when Maxim Lapierre held the puck at the blue line before throwing a soft backdoor saucer pass that Malhotra dove headfirst to deflect -- just as the puck hit the ice – over a sliding Reimer.
Burrows had all kinds of time and space at the hash marks to pick a corner over Reimer's blocker and make it 3-0 early in the second period. His nose was bloodied after colliding with a referee while watching the net after a near miss, one that would have given him a hat trick.
Toronto's top line was on the ice for all three goals, but got one back less than three minutes later, when Phil Kessel raced behind the net and spotted Phaneuf for a one-timer before Luongo could get back up from a crease collision with Lupul and Bieksa. But Luongo's two diving saves, and two quick goals the other way, ended any suspense, and the twins were at it again in the third, setting up Bieksa's goal off the rush – though only Henrik got an assist. After needing overtime 10 times in the previous 14 games, it was a welcome finish.
"It was nice to get a few goals and not play a game where you need to come back the last few minutes," said Henrik. "It got away from them."