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Game #44 – Vancouver Canucks (19-22-3) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (32-13-5) – game recap

After a difficult loss to the Senators last night, the Canucks traveled to Toronto to play a pair of games against the 1st place Maple Leafs. The Canucks managed a pair of wins against the Maple Leafs in Vancouver coming out of their sick beds after fighting off COVID-19. Braden Holtby got the start in net. Kole Lind made his NHL debut. Lind was drafted 33rd overall in the 2017 NHL entry draft. He skated with Brandon Sutter and Tyler Motte. Jalen Chatfield also drew into the lineup as the Canucks look for answers after two losses in a row. Chatfield was paired with Alex Edler. Olli Juolevi was the odd man out  The Maple Leafs rested several key players as they prep for the playoffs (Jake Muzzin, Morgan Reilly, Nick Foligno and Jack Campbell. Ex-Canuck Ben Hutton drew into the lineup. Could the Canucks snap the 2 game losing streak? Here is tonight’s game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Maple Leafs opened the scoring fifteen and a half minutes into the game on a misplay by Quinn Hughes that ended with William Nylander snapping a one-timer past Canucks goalie Braden Holtby
  • The Maple Leafs added a goal 51 seconds into the 2nd period as Auston Matthews wired a one-timer top corner on Holtby
  • Just over two minutes later, Pierre Engvall wired a one-timer top corner on Holtby
  • Just over thirteen and a half minutes later, he Canucks got one back as JT Miller was johnny on the spot to whack a rebound off the pad of Leafs goalie David Rittich and in for a PP marker
  • The Leafs added an empty netter with 55 seconds left as Mitch Marner stuffed the biscuit into the yawning cage.
  • Braden Holtby stopped 20/23 shots
  • Final score: Maple Leafs 4 Canucks 1

My Take:

  • Braden Holtby had a  tough time handling the high shot tonight. Both Auston Matthews and Pierre Engvall picked the top corner on Holtby. He probably wants the first goal back (slid under his pad). You have to think the increased playing time is affecting him. Even without COVID, Holtby had been used sparingly with Thatcher Demko having outplayed him. With the hectic schedule the last dozen games, you’ll see both goalies playing.
  • Both teams were on the second of a back to back tonight and it showed in the 1st period with a combined 6 shots (4 for the Maple Leafs and 2 for the Canucks) through the 1st fifteen minutes of play. The long change was a factor again with the Leafs striking early in the 3nd period twice and outshooting the visitors 11-9 in the middle frame. The Canucks tried to make a game of it, but they just didn’t have the energy to battle through and wound up getting just 16 shots on goal the whole game. The lone goal the Canucks scored was a bit of a lucky break, bouncing off the pad of David Rittich and in
  • Kole Lind played 17:12 in his first career game, recording 2 shots on goal, a hit, a blocked shot, a giveaway and a forced turnover. It was nice to see Travis Green give a rookie some decent ice time. Generally, you have to earn your ice time under Green
  • Kudos to Alex Edler for fighting Wayne Simmonds and not turtling.
  • The Canucks won 55% of the draws, led by Brock Boeser, who won every draw he took. JT Miller (78% success rate), Travis Boyd (67% success rate), Brandon Sutter (63% success rate) and Jake Virtanen (50% success rate) also had good nights in the faceoff circle
  • The Canucks banged out 19 hits, led by Matthew Highmore, who banged out 4 hits tonight
  • The Canucks blocked 15 shots, led by Nate Schmidt, who blocked 4 shots tonight
  • Up next, the Canucks wrap up the season series vs. the Maple Leafs and the road trip as the main event on HNIC. Expect Holtby to start in goal and lineup decisions to be based on health over performance.
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