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Leafs Can't Complete Comeback

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO -- Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks wrapped up their road trip in style.

The goaltender turned aside 26 shots Saturday as Vancouver beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 to finish their 12-day road trip with a 3-1-1 record.

The Leafs simply didn't have an answer for Vancouver's top line of Alexandre Burrows, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin, who returned to the lineup after sitting out Thursday's game in Carolina with back spasms. That unit kept possession of the puck the majority of the night and accounted for the two most important goals of the game.

Burrows found Daniel Sedin with a perfect pass late in the second period to put Vancouver ahead 3-2 before scoring himself with a nice wrist shot with less than six minutes remaining to make it 4-2.

Phil Kessel scored his 19th goal shortly after but the Leafs couldn't find the equalizer before Jannik Hansen iced it with a nice individual effort.

Chris Higgins and Mason Raymond had the other goals for the Canucks (19-11-2), who seem to have their groove back with points in 11-of-13 games.

Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak also replied for Toronto (16-13-3).

Even though the Leafs were playing for the second straight night and Vancouver was wrapping up a five-game road trip, two of the NHL's better-skating teams played at a high pace. The back-and-forth game featured quality scoring chances at both ends and excellent goaltending despite all of the scoring.

Higgins opened the scoring just 1:02 into the game after being left completely alone in front on a blown coverage by Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner. He beat Jonas Gustavsson high for his ninth goal of the season.

The Leafs responded quickly on the power play when Lupul went to the net and had Bozak's shot hit him before he swept the puck in at 3:58.

But the goalies were the real stars of the opening 20 minutes. Luongo heard chants of ``Luuuu!'' from the large cluster of Canucks fans at Air Canada Centre when he got his glove on a Colby Armstrong shot before Gustavsson came across his crease to rob Burrows soon after.

Luongo also stopped Tim Connolly from in close while Gustavsson stretched back to get his paddle on a puck that appeared to be heading in.

Another quick goal in the second period put Vancouver ahead 2-1. Raymond scored at 49 seconds for his third goal in six games since returning from the serious back injury he suffered during last year's Stanley Cup final.

Bozak tied it 2-2 with a nice backhander off the rush at 7:33 before Daniel Sedin gave the Canucks the lead for good at 19:16, one-timing Burrows' pass over Gustavsson.

That allowed Vancouver to continues its dominance of the Leafs. The Canucks have won nine straight meetings between the teams dating back to Nov. 24, 2003.

Notes: The teams meet again Feb. 18 at Rogers Arena ... Andrew Ebbett, Andrew Alberts and Alexander Sulzer sat out for Vancouver ... The Leafs scratched David Steckel, Colton Orr and Jay Rosehill ... Announced attendance was 19,633.

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