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Game 60: Toppled in T.O.

by Daniel Fung / Vancouver Canucks
A lengthy streak came to an end on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre. Unfortunately for the Canucks it was not the one they wanted to see halted.

Mason Raymond, Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk each scored third period markers to lift the Maple Leafs to a 3-1 come-from-behind victory over the Canucks and, in the process, snap an 11-game winless skid against Vancouver that began back on January 10, 2006. Toronto's last win versus Vancouver prior to Saturday came way back on November 24, 2003.

Ryan Kesler had the lone marker for the Canucks, who dropped their seventh consecutive game to close out the pre-Olympic portion of their schedule.

The seven-game regulation losing streak marks the longest such streak for Vancouver since a similar seven-game swoon from December 26, 1998 to January 6, 1999.

For just over 47 minutes in Saturday's contest, the Canucks teased like they would finally put an end to their epic losing skid.

Kesler opened the scoring with a seemingly innocuous wrist shot with just 22 seconds left in the opening frame after Leafs' netminder Jonathan Bernier whiffed on his attempt to blocker it aside.

Canucks' netminder Roberto Luongo, meanwhile, looked sharp for most of the night turning aside all 13 shots he faced in the opening two periods and making a few more nifty saves in the early part of the third period to keep the Leafs off the scoreboard. But then the wheels fell off.

Raymond, the ex-Canuck, would equalize the game for the Leafs beating his former teammate, Luongo, with a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot at 7:03 of the final frame. Kessel would net the eventual game-winner on a delayed penalty less than three minutes after that firing a long wrist shot from the point that managed to beat a screened Luongo.

To rub salt in the wound, van Riemsdyk would add an insurance marker just over two minutes after Kessel's tally by shooting the puck in off Alexander Edler's chest to round out the scoring.

Luongo, who is one of seven Canucks headed to Sochi immediately after tonight's contest, finished the night with 21 saves on 24 shots in the loss.

Bernier turned aside 32 of 33 shots, including all 15 he faced in the third period, in the victory for Toronto.

The Canucks will resume action following the Olympic Games on February 26 when they begin a three-game home stand hosting the St. Louis Blues.

Ryan Kesler reached the 20-goal mark for the sixth time in his career... Alex Burrows tied for the team-lead in shots in the game with four. He has amassed 68 total shots this season and has zero goals to show for it... The Canucks concluded their five-game road trip going 0-5-0... Roberto Luongo's personal losing streak stretched to five games. He has allowed 17 goals on 142 shots over those five games... The Maple Leafs wore their Winter Classic jersey for the third and final time this season. They are 3-0-0 in those jerseys.

HOMECOMINGS: The Canucks' lineup on Saturday boasted five players from the province of Ontario including Frank Corrado (Toronto), Zac Dalpe (Paris), Kellan Lain (Oakville), Zack Kassian (Windsor), and Brad Richardson (Belleville). Two of them – Corrado and Lain – played their respective first games in their home province as NHLers. Dalpe, meanwhile, played for the first time at the Air Canada Centre. He had previously played in his home province back on October 14, 2010 in Ottawa in his third career NHL game while with the Carolina Hurricanes.

NO SWISS MISS: Defenceman Yannick Weber has missed the last four games for the Canucks including tonight's contest against Toronto but, according to a tweet from The Province sports columnist Ben Kuzma, that won't hinder him from joining Team Switzerland at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Weber has reportedly been given the green light to proceed with his Olympic duties. Weber is one of two Canuck blue-liners headed to Sochi to represent Switzerland, the other being the recently-acquired Raphael Diaz.

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