Kadri's hot streak continues as Leafs take game's first lead on savvy setup by Zaitsev. Toronto centre Nazem Kadri had two goals Tuesday (including the winner in overtime and his hot streak continued Saturday, as he scored his sixth of the season at the 12:20 mark of the opening period. Kadri was set up by a slick pass from Buds blueliner Nikita Zaitsev, who recorded his sixth assist of the season on the play.
The Leafs were all over the Canucks for most of the first, outshooting the visitors 17-7, and Kadri's goal was a good harbinger for Toronto's chemistry with the puck.
Bozak boosts Buds' lead, but Canucks get on scoreboard before end of opening frame. The Leafs didn't take their foot off the gas after Kadri's goal, pressuring Vancouver netminder Ryan Miller throughout the first 20 minutes and carving out a 2-0 lead on Tyler Bozak's fourth goal of the year with 3:42 left before the intermission.
However, just 26 seconds after Bozak scored, the Canucks struck back on winger Derek Dorsett's first marker of the season. It was a reminder that Toronto has had challenges this year playing with the lead, and that any NHL team can capitalize on defensive zone breakdowns, even those that come on the shift after they've been scored on.
Video: VAN@TOR: Bozak tallies his second of the game
Leafs regain two-goal lead on power-play marker by Bozak, but Vancouver strikes again late. The second period was a more even affair between the two teams, although the quality of scoring chances was in Toronto's favour once again. And on their second power play opportunity of the night, the Leafs made it 3-1 on Bozak's second of the game.
Unfortunately for Leafs Nation, the Canucks again scored late in a period, this time getting a goal from veteran Henrik Sedin at the 16:20 mark after two significant defensive lapses on Toronto's part. Buds goalie Frederik Andersen couldn't be faulted, as he was essentially left all alone with Sedin and had already made a big save on the previous Vancouver rush. The Leafs have had issues with their defensive composure at times this season, and maintaining their focus remains an area in which they can improve.
Video: VAN@TOR: Marner knocks home a perfect pass from Bozak
Marner-Bozak chemistry on full display as Toronto pads lead early in third. If you had any doubts prior to Saturday's game that Bozak and winger Mitch Marner enjoyed playing on the same line - and really, you shouldn't have - they would've been erased by watching the duo combine for Toronto's third and fourth goals of the night. Marner had the primary assist on Bozak's second period goal, and at 4:18 of the third, the roles were reversed, and it was Bozak finding Marner with an absolutely brilliant pass that led to Marner's fourth goal of the year and Bozak's fourth assist.
Bozak has played with some highly-skilled NHLers in his time with Toronto, but in Marner, he might have the ideal linemate - an equally-fast and crafty force on offence who can thread the needle time and again. The Canucks had no answer for them, and the Leafs now have a three-game win streak thanks in no small part to their efforts.
Wild, wooly and nasty end to the game. After Leafs winger Nikita Soshnikov scored his first goal of the season (and third career NHL goal in his 14th game with the Buds) at the 6:13 mark of the third to increase Toronto's lead to 5-2, Vancouver got back into it with a goal from Daniel Sedin at 6:42 of the frame. And on the same play, Buds blueliner Morgan Rielly barrelled into Canucks winger Jannick Hansen by Vancouver's blueline - causing the crowd at the ACC to erupt in glee - and Kadri collided with Daniel Sedin, knocking off his helmet and triggering a melee that ended with Kadri and Hansen being ejected from the game.
Buds D-man Jake Gardiner restored Toronto's three-goal advantage with his second of the year at 8:21 of the third. But the bad blood between the two sides didn't subside until the final buzzer: a fight between Dorsett and winger Leo Komarov led to Dorsett being forcibly removed from the ice surface and sent to the dressing room while jawing at the Leafs bench; Alexandre Burrows got into it with Rielly seven seconds later and the Canucks winger was also ejected; and a full-on brawl that included both goalies - Miller charged out of his crease and jumped winger Matt Martin as Martin was entangled with defenseman Troy Stecher - exploded with approximately five minutes left in regulation time, and finished with Miller, Martin and Andersen being ejected as well.
It's safe to say the two sides won't have many pleasantries to exchange when next they meet, in Vancouver on Dec. 3.