In an early CBC HNIC edition, the Vancouver Canucks iced a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at General Motors Place Saturday, October 24, 2009.
Special teams factored largely into in the game, which featured a number of early momentum swings as the clubs swapped odd man advantages.
The Canucks capitalized early with the man advantage, as Mason Raymond and Ryan Kesler both posted powerplay tallies. Raymond’s goal would be reviewed, as the Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson felt Michael Grabner knocked the puck down with a high stick, but it stood.
Mason Raymond, Canucks 2nd pick, 51st overall, 2005 (photo courtesy of TSN)
Only 2:42 later, Ryan Kesler walked in off the blue line and ripped a wrister over the glovehand side of a partially screened Joey Macdonald. The latter was a large reason the Leafs were able to keep the game close and fairly winable. He was named the games 3rd star, with Mason Raymond earning 2nd star for his 2 goal performance.
Niklas Hagman would respond with a powerplay goal of his own for the Leafs at 16:46 of the second period. The game slowed a little at that point, with both clubs apprehensive to make a mistake and turn the puck over unforced. Apparently the cautious approach worked for Vancouver, as they avoided any future trips to the penalty box in the 3rd period.
Roberto Luongo (CBC’s 1st star) made some good early saves in the win, positioning well with a strong late push from the Leafs a dozen minutes into the third. Leafs winger Lee Stempniak partially fanned on a wrist shot after breaking through the Canucks defense with the Leafs within a goal. But that was close as they would get, despite a couple of mad scrambles with the Canucks collapsed in front of Luongo. Rickard Wallin just failed to get the handle on a spin around attempt during the screened action with a partially open net.
The Maple Leafs set a franchaise record for their worst start with the loss, opening the season 0-7-1. “We did everything we had to do except bury the scoring chances we had,” lamented Leafs coach Ron Wilson.
The Canucks have now won 5 of their last 7, after a shaky start to the season. The Edmonton Oilers (6-2-1, 2nd in Northwest) are in Vancouver tomorrow (Sunday). The Oilers are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames in the second half of the CBC Hockey Night in Canada double-header.