VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Ticker) — Pavol Demitra’s return
could not have gone better.
Demitra recorded three assists and Robert Luongo stopped 28
shots as the Vancouver Canucks posted a 4-2 victory over the
Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Kyle Wellwood, Ryan Kesler, defenseman Willie Mitchell and
Daniel Sedin all tallied for the Canucks, who finished their
season-high six-game homestand at 4-1-1 despite being outshot,
They got a big boost from Demitra, who returned after missing 10
games with a rib cartilage injury.
“It’s always nice to get a couple of points and win the game and
build your confidence right away,” Demitra said.
“For a player that had missed 10 games, obviously he really
helped us offensively,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.
Luongo, who had his franchise-record shutout streak snapped at
242 minutes, 36 seconds on Wednesday, looked as though he would
record his fourth blanking in five games until he was beaten
“We’ve got the best goalie in the league, and that always
helps,” Demitra said. “I think it’s so frustrating for every
single team to go against Louie. He’s unbelievable, and he gave
us a chance to win the game.”
Luongo turned the focus toward Demitra, however.
“He is one of the most skilled players I have seen,” the captain
said. “He sees the ice well and he’s got a good shot, and he’s
got a full package.”
Blue-liner Ian White and Matt Stajan scored less than three
minutes apart in the latter stages of the third period for
Toronto, which has lost five of seven.
“They played really tight,” White said. “There wasn’t a whole
lot of room to maneuver out there. They probably loosened up a
bit once they were comfortable with the lead, and that probably
helped us, but we were fighting it pretty bad.”
Vancouver jumped all over goaltender Vesa Toskala and led, 4-0,
after two periods.
Wellwood and Kesler staked the Canucks to a 2-0 lead in the
first. Wellwood scored his seventh of the season at 7:13, and
Kesler doubled the advantage during a power play with 1:58
Mitchell one-timed a pass from Alex Burrows past Toskala at 3:35
of the second to make it 3-0, and Sedin tipped in a feed from
defenseman Lawrence Nycholat at 8:31 for a four-goal bulge.
That spelled the end of the night for Toskala, who stopped just
five shots. Curtis Joseph came on and turned away all six shots
“I actually felt really good, that might be what (stinks) most,”
Toskala said. “I wasn’t able to help the team more than that.
They got a good scoring chance and they just put the puck in.”
The Maple Leafs rallied late, as White beat Luongo between the
pads with 5:07 left and Stajan scored a power-play goal 2:37
“Obviously, we know (Luongo’s) there, but I think you just focus
more on getting more traffic,” Stajan said. “But we’ve been
doing that all year, that’s why we’ve been scoring goals –
getting traffic, getting rebounds. We know we have to do that.
It’s too bad we didn’t get one earlier there because it could
have been a different game.”