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The Goods: Comeback complete

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

You want to know what happened in the Canucks game and you want to know now. We get it. Here’s the bare bones recap of Vancouver’s 5-3 win in Toronto.

…Alex Burrows completed a Vancouver comeback for the ages with an empty net goal, his 25th of the season and club record 15th in January, with 38 seconds left in the third period to give the Canucks a 5-3 win over the Maple Leafs.

Toronto held a commanding 3-0 lead after 20 minutes of play as the worst team in the Eastern Conference began flirting with what would have been its biggest win of the season.

That all changed - correction - that came to a screeching, whiplashing halt midway through the second period when Burrows stole the puck from Alexei Ponikarovsky at the Vancouver blueline and proceeded to launch a backhand shot over Vesa Toskala on a shorthanded breakaway as the Canucks punched through the coffin lid.

The Canucks cut into the Maple Leafs lead again just 3:27 into the third frame when Burrows drew two defenders and got a perfect 10 from the Canadian judge for delivering a primo spin pass to a wide-open Daniel Sedin at the side of the goal. Danny’s 15th of the season was as easy as they come.

That goal awoke the Sedins, and Henrik was next on the scoresheet when just 2:05 later he collected a Burrows rebound and put the puck in the crease where Lee Stempniak was nice enough to give it a final push over the goal line.

Not wanting to start their mammoth 14-game road trip by playing extra time, Daniel and Henrik came together to give the Canucks a 4-3 advantage with 2:04 to play in the third period. Hank brought the puck into the Leafs zone and saucered a pass to Danny as he battled for position with Jamal Mayers. Daniel won and got his stick on the puck to tip it over Toskala. Game over.

Vancouver wins for the seventh straight game and seventh time in 11 contests on the road.

If you thought Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson didn’t look amused following his team’s collapse, you should have caught a glimpse of Toronto GM Brian Burke.

Not only was Burke’s team manhandled by the Sedins and Burrows, but he played a part in that happening. Burke was general manager of the Canucks from 1998-2004 and during that span Vancouver not only drafted the Sedins, but their AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, also took a chance on a young Burrows.

Thank you Mr. Burke.

The twins and Burr were as menacing as ever combining for all five goals and nine points overall; Burrows led the charge with two goals and two helpers, while Daniel had a pair of goals and an assist and Henrik scored once and added an assist.

Burrows’ fourth shorthanded goal of the season equals the career-high he set a year ago, it also moves him into first in the NHL in that category.

Overlooked but certainly not underappreciated, Andrew Raycroft played as a big a role as anyone on this night.

The former Leafs tender, who is ironically still on the Toronto payroll this season, replaced Roberto Luongo after a lackluster opening period by the Canucks starter, and despite not having been between the pipes for more than a period since December 5, 2009, Rayzor was dominating.

Raycroft, an Ontario native playing in front of friends and family, stopped all 13 shots he faced as for the second straight season a Maple Leaf from the past comes back to haunt Toronto. It's heartwarming really.

The Canucks began this game on the wrong end of a three goal deficit, luckily it was the first time this season they’ve trailed by that much and not had it stick.

Only four times all year has Vancouver been upended by three goals or more, in fact, the Canucks are on the other side of three-goal games 81 per cent of the time going 17-4 through 54 contests.

Winning goaltender Andrew Raycroft on the win, the Leafs still signing his cheques and what he’s learned about the Sedins:

”That felt good. Unexpected, obviously, I wasn’t really expecting to play, but our guys are awesome, our big line stepped up and took control of the game.

”It’s nice to come back here and I haven’t played a lot, I haven’t play a lot in a long time and to have some of that hard work pay off and to be able to come in and contribute is fun.

”How tough they are mentally, physically strong and just great attitudes, positive every day and they’re pretty gritty, they get in games like this and they want to contribute and be part of it. They play the big D every night and they don’t back down.”

Next stop for Vancouver on its 14-game trek across the world is Montreal where the Canucks will play the Canadiens on Tuesday.

The Canucks embarrassed the Habs in Vancouver to the tune of 7-1 for their first win of the season on October 7, and the home side will be out for a little justice.

Last season Vancouver and Montreal split their season series 1-1 with each winning at home.

NUMB3RS

4 – Wins for the Canucks this season against teams from the Northeast Division (4-0-0).

6 – Wins for the Canucks this season versus Original Six teams (6-3-0).

9 – Wins for the Canucks this season against teams that played the night before (9-2-2).

9 – Points for Vancouver's top line of twins and Burr (5-4-9).

10 – Wins for the Canucks this season against Eastern Conference opponents (10-1-0).

13
– Saves for Andrew Raycroft.

OFFENCE

The Canucks had close to zero offence through two periods, but that all changed in the third when the twins came to life. Vancouver got all of its goals from the top trio; Burrows had two goals and two assists.

Vancouver outshot Toronto 36-21.

DEFENCE

Roberto Luongo struggled early and was pulled for the fifth time this, but Andrew Raycroft was magnificent in relief stopping all 13 shots against.

The blueline was once again without Kevin Bieksa, Willie Mitchell and Sami Salo.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Canucks were 0-for-6 on the power play, while the Maple Leafs went 1-for-5.

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