Auston Matthews got his 45th and the Leafs got a Leap Day win

Harley Kock
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Saturday, February 29, 2020

Final Score, Toronto Maple Leafs 4 - Vancouver Canucks 2

Toronto, ON - The Toronto Maple Leafs got two much needed points in a 4-2 win versus the Vancouver Canucks. Frederik Anderson got the start in net and looked shaky early but then stopped 24 straight shots for his 28th win of the season. Thatcher Demko opposed him and looked good but a few bad bounces led to his 26 saves on 30 shots. Rasmus Sandin had a tough night getting pulled from the top pair but did finish even with an assist.


Sandin started the game alongside Tyson Barrie. The 19-year-old was opposed by Vancovers young superstar defensemen Quinn Hughes. 


But it was the Leafs and their fourth line that got it done first. Sandin went across the blueline to Barrie who faked a shot and passed to Frederik Gauthier. He ripped one right by Demko just 2:45 into the first period to take the lead. Gauthier’s seventh goal of the season.


First shot first goal for the Canucks. Their fourth line had a great forecheck knocking Sandin off the puck. Jay Beagle passed to Brandon Sutter who went cross-crease to Tyler Motte who put it by Anderson to tie it up.


Not a lot of saves early.


Auston Matthews flew down the left side of the ice. A shot from the outside of the circle, he sniped his 45th of the year to get the lead back, just 57 seconds after Vancouver tied it.


Then Sandin got outworked once more.


Bo Horvat shot from the point and on the backdoor Sandin was fighting for position with Tanner Pearson.  Pearson got the better of the Leafs youngster and beat Anderson to tie the game. His 19th of the year with 8:58 remaining in the period. Vancouver had two goals on three shots.


The Leafs were a post away from taking the lead back.


On a Toronto powerplay, William Nylander was down low and cut outfront. He pulled Demko his way and went cross-crease to Matthews. The Leafs all star put it off the post. 




Nylander behind the net this time. He got Demko moving and went outfront to Matthews but he put it off the post for the second time with the extra skater. 


The first period ended tied at two. Toronto outshot Vancouver 9-7. Four of those shots came from Matthews. The Canucks were really trying to chip and chase the Leafs with 14 hits in the opening 20 minutes.


The Leafs controlled the first few minutes of the second. A change by Head Coach Sheldon Keefe breaking up Barrie and Sandin. Barrie was put with Martin Marincin, Sandin went with Calle Rosen. A penalty by Travis Dermott put the Canucks on their first powerplay of the night.


Toronto did well shorthanded and actually drew a penalty with 30 second left in their kill. Anderson tried to get involved. He floated a beautiful pass up to Nylander for a breakaway. He fired a slapper that Demko turned away with his blocker. Toronto couldn’t convert their second powerplay of the night.


Nylander got another chance at a breakaway. He was skating with speed but Hughes caught up and pushed him. Nylander was out of control and hit the post, luckily he got right back up and was ok.


The second period ended the same as the first at 2-2. The Leafs again led the shots 10-6. Toronto was also winning in the dot, 24 to 17. Their real issue was their ten giveaways, the Canucks great forecheck was clearly an issue going into the final 20 minutes.


The third was Marincin in 18 seconds.


He took the pass at centre ice and wristed one at Demko that hit the post. It bounced back out to Marincin and he tucked his first NHL goal in eleven months.


Then a tough penalty call on Nylander. He was sent to the sin bin for two minutes for holding in the offensive zone. The Leafs killed it off with still 15 minutes left in the game.


Vancouver pulled Demko with just over two minutes left in the third. Zach Hyman was the recipient of a great pass Mitch Marner that he slid into the empty cage. Hyman tied his career high in goals with his 21st of the season. 


That would be the final as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2. The Leafs had 20 blocked shots in their win. They are now five points up on Florida after their shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Panthers still have one game in hand.


Next Up, Three game west coast road trip. It starts Tuesday, March 3rd, in San Jose against the Sharks, who the Leafs beat 4-1 in their previous matchup in October.