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Canucks end trip with win at Toronto

by Neil Acharya /
TORONTO -- The Vancouver Canucks ended their road trip on a high note after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs by a 5-3 score at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

Timely goals and highlight-reel saves by Roberto Luongo -- who made 26 saves -- propelled Vancouver to victory and a 3-1-1 record on its five-game road trip.  

The Canucks put the game out of reach when Alexandre Burrows tallied his 11th goal of the season with just under six minutes remaining in the third period to make it 4-2.

The scoring play was a result of the Canucks taking advantage of a lot of time and space which started when Henrik Sedin took the puck from Phil Kessel and was allowed to skate clear through the neutral zone before finding Burrows just over the blue line. From there, Burrows capitalized on soft coverage, skating in towards the middle of the faceoff circles before firing the puck in off the post. The goal sent the many Canucks fans in attendance into celebration mode.

"I thought we had lot of room all night to be honest, for some reason it seems when you play out east there is a little bit more room, it's a little bit more entertaining, a little bit more fast paced and open then when you play some teams in the west," said Burrows, whose game-winning goal along with an assist earned him first star honors.

"They turned the puck over in a bad area," said Henrik Sedin, "If that happens usually you get a lot of room, we we're up against a team that played the second day of a back to back and they looked a little tired, but we played well and didn't give them a whole lot."

Kessel scored his 19th of the season, taking Tyler Bozak's tape-to-tape pass from the corner to cut the lead to 4-3 giving hope to the home-side and to their fans, but Jannik Hansen put an end to that by scoring his 10th for the Canucks back up by 2 with 1:40 left. Hansen by pounced on a loose puck in the neutral zone and outmuscled Dion Phaneuf to the net, going to his forehand and beat Jonas Gustavsson to make it 5-3.

"They had the puck in deep, nobody was out on the left point so I could skate out on it and their d-men had been on for long and maybe were tired so I tried to make it a race and cut in front of them and I fortunate to keep the puck on my stick and able to get the puck over the shoulder of the goalie," Hansen said.

Gustavsson, who made 31 saves, many of them tough -- especially through the first two periods -- was particularly tough on himself regarding Hansen's insurance marker.
"As long as you lose the game you can't be happy, I needed to stop that breakaway to give the team a chance at the end but other than that I felt pretty good," Gustavsson said. "We believe in ourselves (our recent losses) have been tight games, we could have won those games. We know we are a good team and we just have to show it."
Goals in the first and last minute of the second period gave the Canucks a 3-2 lead heading into the second intermission.  

Daniel Sedin knocked in his 13th of the season with 44 seconds left, taking a tremendous feed from Burrows through two Leafs to beat Gustavsson to give Vancouver a one-goal lead after two periods of play.

Saturday marked Daniel Sedin's return to the lineup after a one game absence with back spasms. It was his first goal on the Canucks' road trip and first since Dec. 6, when he had a hat trick at home versus Columbus. It was a tough way to end the period for Gustavsson, who turned aside 11 shots, many of which were good scoring chances.
Forty-nine seconds into the period, Ryan Kesler stole the puck in the corner to the left of Gustavsson and went to the net. His jam attempt bounded out in front to Mason Raymond, who had a wide-open net to shoot at. He buried his third of the season to put the Canucks up, 2-1. Chris Higgins got the second assist on the play, giving him his second point of the night as he earned third star honors.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was impressed with the work of his second line.

"The line at the beginning of the game that was doing the best was Ryan Kesler's line, those three guys had speed and were creating turnovers," he said. "They created so many turnovers tonight, but we couldn’t make them (the Leafs) pay, we should have had that game put into our hands a little bit earlier than we did tonight."

The Leafs drew even at two when Bozak scored at 7:33. After knocking a Kessel pass out of the air, Bozak charged down the middle of the ice towards Luongo. Alex Edler initially seemed to have to have Bozak in check, but he was able to corral the puck to his backhand and feather it over Luongo's right shoulder for his seventh of the season. It was the first time he found the back of the net after seven games without a goal, the last time he found the back of the net before tonight was Nov. 27 in Anaheim.  

The score was tied at one after 20 minutes of play. Vancouver wasted no time in getting the scoring started as Edler found Higgins wide open in front 62 seconds into the game. Higgins made a quick move to his backhand to beat Gustavsson for his ninth goal of the season.    

The Leafs tied the game just less than three minutes later, when Joffrey Lupul scored on the power play. After Luongo stoned Bozak in front, Lupul was able to play the puck off his body, maintain position under pressure and get his stick on it. It was his 15th goal of the season.

Not long after the tying goal, Vancouver thought it had taken the lead, but it was ruled that Gustavsson was interfered with. Kesler argued, but to no avail.

Luongo made a spectacular save in near the midway point of the opening period, coming across on a 2-on-1 to rob Colby Armstrong on what looked to be a sure goal. Clarke MacArthur made a pinpoint pass to Armstrong, but Luongo got his glove on the puck for a dazzling save.

Luongo wasn't done there, as he came up big again with just over five minutes remaining when Phaneuf set up Tim Connolly with a nice pass from behind the net. While Luongo anticipated Phaneuf to go around the net, he sensed the backdoor pass and came back to the near post to prevent a wide-open Connolly from scoring.
"When they needed a couple of big saves from him they obviously got them, and we never could get to a spot where we got ahead and felt good about ourselves, we were always chasing," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said.

Vancouver returns home to face the Minnesota Wild on Monday, while Toronto will play L.A. at home on Monday in what could be Darryl Sutter's coaching debut with the Kings.
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