Canucks keep Leafs winless with 3-1 victory
Vancouver's Mason Raymond couldn't seem to buy a goal and the Toronto Maple Leafs couldn't get a win, so something had to give.
Given Toronto's winless start to the season, it's not surprising the bounce went the way of the Canucks forward.
Raymond opened the scoring with a power-play goal that was actually swept in by Toronto defenseman Mike Komisarek, and added his second goal into an empty net with 7.9 seconds left, leading Vancouver to a 3-1 victory Saturday.
"I've had quite a few chances the past few games and haven't had anything go in so there weren't pretty tonight but I'm happy they went in, said Raymond, who was pointless his last three games despite 13 shots and a couple breakaways. "I'm getting some chances and that's what counts, but ultimately I'm just glad our line is playing well and generally the team is doing better."
Ryan Kesler scored a power-play goal 2:42 after Raymond's, and Michael Grabner added two assists as the Canucks' speedy new second line combined for all three goals, and five points. None of it would have mattered if not for Roberto Luongo, who made the best of his 35 saves early and while being outplayed late.
"Roberto tonight gave us a chance to win this game, said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. "They played a really strong game, they had a lot of scoring chances, but our goaltender was the best player on the ice tonight."
Niklas Hagman scored late in the second period for the Maple Leafs, who remained the NHL's last winless team, setting a franchise record for their worst start at 0-7-1. Failing to capitalize on three early 2-on-1s set the tone for a Toronto team that is the NHL's lowest-scoring this season.
"We did everything we had to do except bury the scoring chances we had," said coach Ron Wilson. "If we'd have played Luongo two weeks ago we might have scored six goals, but tonight when was on top of things and made a couple of real stretch saves that only a guy like he can make."
Luongo, who struggled to start the season, has won five of seven after losing his first three as the Canucks reached .500 for the first time this season.
"I felt good out there, but I've been feeling pretty good the last couple of weeks here," Luongo said. "I made some saves and we got some big goals early and found a way to win even though I thought Toronto played really well."
Toronto opened a five-game road trip with its first game in a week - its longest non-Olympic or All-Star break since 1956 - and had the better chances early on, outshooting the Canucks 7-1 before taking five-straight penalties.
Even then the Maple Leafs' penalty kill, ranked last in the NHL, created better scoring chances. But Ian White was stopped on a short-handed 2-on-1 on the first penalty and Lee Stempniak fanned on his shot after skating in alone while killing off a four-minute penalty that produced just two Vancouver shots.
"We knew they were going to be a hungry team obviously because they hadn't won and they were sitting at home for a week just waiting to play us," Luongo said.
Raymond, who drew the double-minor against White, used his speed to draw another penalty 20 seconds after the power play ended, and showed grit to help open the scoring with 5:10 left in the first period. Grabner knocked a rebound out of air and he and Raymond jammed at the loose puck before Komisarek tipped it in.
Kesler doubled the lead 2:42 later with Rickard Wallin in the penalty box for delay of game, snapping a shot from the top of the faceoff circle past the glove of MacDonald, who was being partially screened by Raymond and Grabner.
Luongo had to be sharp early. In addition to the short-handed 2-on-1 breaks, he got a blocker on Alexei Ponikarovsky's backhand after breaking in alone off a 2-on-1 rush 2:30 in, and got across quickly to his left and threw the left pad out to take an empty net away from Viktor Stalberg on a rebound two minutes later.
Hagman finally beat him on a power play with 3:14 left in the second period, and the Maple Leafs controlled the third period, outshooting Vancouver 10-3 and creating several good chances before Raymond scored into the empty net.
"The desperation is there," Komisarek said. "We sensed it was within reach tonight and it was right there. If we have a consistent effort like that and continuing on this road trip we're definitely get a couple of wins."
MacDonald, making his third-straight start while Vesa Toskala (knee) and Jonas Gustavsson (groin) are injured, finished with 21 saves.
Notes: Canucks D Christian Ehrhoff also had two assists. Vancouver C Pavol Demitra is out indefinitely after requiring arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder this week because the range of motion didn't return from rotator cuff surgery in the summer. D Mathieu Schneider, who had similar shoulder surgery in the summer, is expected to play against the Oilers on Sunday, the soonest he is eligible to play after starting the season on the long-term injury list. ... Gustavsson and Toskala are both on the five-game road trip, and Gustavsson may return against Anaheim Monday.