Roberto Luongo, the starting goalie for the Western Conference all-star team, kept the Canucks in the game early and outplayed his counterpart Andrew Raycroft, with a flashy glove save on Leafs captain Mats Sundin midway through the third period as the exclamation point on a near perfect evening.
Luongo stopped 35 of 36 shots while Raycroft made only 15 saves.
Markus Naslund, Mattias Ohlund, Sami Salo, Taylor Pyatt and Trevor Linden also scored for the Canucks (25-19-1), who got their first five goals all on the power play. Goaltending and special teams were the difference in this game, Vancouver going 5-for-10 with the man advantage while Toronto was 0-for-8.
Bates Battaglia had the lone reply for the Leafs (20-20-6), who heard the boos from the 19,608 fans at Air Canada Centre, an all-time record crowd for a Leafs game in their eight-year-old building.
The fans had nothing to complain about early on, the Leafs coming out of the gates on fire and outshooting the Canucks 14-3 in the first period, but thanks to a wall named Luongo they went to the dressing room only tied 1-1.
Vancouver opened the scoring on only its second shot of the game, Ohlund beating Raycroft glove side with a nice one-timer from the slot at 8:46 after a set-up from Daniel Sedin on a Canucks’ power play, a goal that got the significant Canucks contingent in the crowd to its feet.
Battaglia tied it on a strange one with 6:29 to go in the opening period, the Leafs forward flubbing a shot from in-close that bounced over Luongo and in.
Daniel Sedin put Vancouver back up a goal 39 seconds into the second period, ripping a wrist shot from the high slot top corner over Raycroft’s glove side, again on the power play. The Canucks had two goals on only four shots on goal, not doing much for Raycroft’s shaky status with Leaf fans.
The back-breaker came 4:39 into the third period with the Canucks on a 5-on-3 power play, Linden banging in a rebound to give Vancouver a 3-1 lead. The Leafs were down two men because Battaglia got an unsportsmanlike penalty for yapping too much after the original hooking call on Tomas Kaberle.
With the crowd still unsettled and angry at the referees, Pyatt, with his team still on the power play, then broke in alone 13 seconds later and beat Raycroft five-hole and it was lights out for the Leafs at 4-1.
Salo made it 5-1 when his shot from the point bounced in off Raycroft’s glove, one the Leafs goalie should have had. He got the Bronx cheer from the crowd minutes later when he stopped an easy shot.
Nalsund walked in alone and deked out Raycroft at 17:29 to make it a rout at 6-1. The derisive chants of “Raycroft, Raycroft,” started soon after.
The Olympics must be a distant memory. Fellow gold medallists Sundin and Naslund were in each other’s faces a few times, with Sundin giving his fellow captain a face wash in the third period.
Notes: Saturday’s game was designated as Canadian Forces Appreciation Night at Air Canada Centre with the Leafs honouring Canadian Forces personnel and having more than 100 of them attend the game as well as a ceremonial puck drop before the game … The Canucks play the Habs in Montreal on Tuesday and the red-hot Senators in Ottawa on Thursday … The Leafs departed for Florida on Saturday night, where they play Tuesday at Tampa and Thursday at Miami.