VANCOUVER (CP) -- Scoring his first NHL goal was a thrill for rookie Alexandre Burrows.
Scoring it against the Toronto Maple Leafs made it even sweeter.
Burrows, playing in just his fifth NHL game, had a goal and an assist while goaltender Alex Auld made 35 saves as the Vancouver Canucks ground out a nail-biting 4-3 win over the Leafs Tuesday night.
"Growing up I was a Montreal Canadiens fan,'' said Burrows, who the Canucks called up Jan. 2 from their AHL Manitoba Moose farm team.
"It was a big rivalry against the Leafs.''
It wasn't a night for finesse as the grinders took centre stage for the Canucks. Instead of ballroom dancing it was a mosh pit, which gave a fourth-liner like Burrows a chance to shine.
Burrows' linemate Ryan Kesler also had two assists, his first points in 11 games.
"We just wanted to get a good forecheck, get pressure on their defencemen and some good hits,'' said Burrows, who also assisted on Jarkko Ruutu's first-period goal.
"Every time you get a goal it's a plus. We're really happy we contributed tonight.''
Hardnosed Matt Cooke and Anson Carter, on a third-period power play, also scored for the Canucks.
The win was Vancouver's third in a row and moved the Canucks to just two points back of Calgary for first place in the Northwest Division.
Auld, who faced 30 shots over the last two periods, liked the work effort he saw in front of him.
"I thought we had some great contributions from the bottom of our forward line up,'' said Auld, who was named the game's first star.
"To see Burrows get his first goal is great. ''
After looking shaky in the first period Auld was like a rock for the rest of the game as the Leafs came at him in waves.
"I saw a lot of pucks,'' said Auld, who twice made pad saves on Mats Sundin and blocked Tie Domi who had been left alone on his doorstep.
"That was the key. The guys did a great job of clearing bodies out from in front of me and there weren't too many rebound chances.''
Chad Kilger had a goal and assist for the Leafs (24-16-3, 51 points), who lost for the second time in nine games. Alexander Khavanov and Alex Steen, on the power play, also scored.
Toronto outshot Vancouver 38-19 and carried the play for the last half of the game, but lost for the second time in three games during their swing through Western Canada.
"We worked hard tonight,'' said Sundin, who had five shots on goal.
"We certainly had a good enough effort to win the hockey game and created enough chances. Some nights it doesn't turn out the way you want.''
Carlo Colaiacovo, who replaced the injured Bryan McCabe, said Auld was the difference in the game.
"Give credit to their goalie,'' said Colaiacovo, who hip-checked Todd Bertuzzi to the ice in the second period:
"He played really well. We're happy with our hard work so it's something to build on for next game.''
The Leaf nation was out in full force among the sellout crowd of 18,630 for Toronto's only visit of the season. Chants of "Go Leafs go'' were quickly countered with a chorus of "Leafs suck.''
Ruutu, who has a career-high seven goals on the season, said it was a strange game to play.
"It was a weird game,'' he said. "There wasn't a lot of flow.''
Vancouver improved its record to 24-14-5 for 53 points.
Burrows' goal wasn't a classic but it still counted.
He fired a shot into a crowd that Leaf goaltender Ed Belfour stopped, but the puck sailed high into the air and landed behind him in the net.
Kilger opened the scoring at 4:41 of the first while killing the game's initial penalty.
Canuck defenceman Sami Salo had his shot from the point blocked. Kilger picked up the puck at the blue-line and skated into the Vancouver zone. He fought off Salo with one hand, then launched a spin-around shot that beat Auld on the far side.
It was Kilger's fourth goal in as many games, coming on Toronto's first shot on goal.
NOTES: Canuck defenceman Ed Jovanovski missed his sixth consecutive game with a groin injury . . . Right-winger Richard Park left the game in the second period favouring his right leg and didn't return . . . Carter used to play street hockey against former Leaf goalie Mike Palmateer growing up in Toronto . . . The Canucks head out on the road for games in New Jersey, Long Island and Pittsburgh.