Toronto Maple Leafs blown away by ramped-up Canucks
After Bure’s jersey went to the rafters, Vancouver went on a goal-scoring and body-checking rampage in 4-0 win over Toronto
When the Leafs Frazer McLaren waved his white towel from the penalty box, it was so fitting.
Not because it evoked Roger Neilson on a night the Vancouver Canucks wrapped themselves in their history, celebrating the greatness of Pavel Bure.
And not because he had a point. He didn’t. The 4-0 Canucks win was littered in dangerous plays and hits, and McLaren’s pitchforking of Alex Edler into the boards was more than enough to warrant the two minutes in the box he was mocking.
But he did get it right. The Leafs were all about waving the white flag Saturday. They spent so much time running down Canucks, from the front and from behind, efforting to score goals was a distant afterthought. The win seemed to less to Toronto than settling scores.
Here’s something interesting: The Canucks were fine with all of it. In fact, they kind of started it. They pushed first. When the Leafs responded, the Canucks pushed back.
It was a rough game, and even ugly at the end when Dave Bolland was wheeled out of Rogers Arena on a stretcher to a hospital for surgery. His leg was cut when Zack Kassian ran him hard into the boards. Some called it dirty. It wasn’t.
“It was very clean, I think,” Kassian said. “Obviously, people are going to talk, especially with my suspension before. But there’s nothing there. I’m sure once they look at it, they’ll see it’s a clean hockey play and part of the game.”
What the Canucks were Saturday was a team that flexed its skill in a big way. They went wire-to-wire with the puck. They out-shot the Leafs 47-21. Late in the third, even with their huge lead, they were still coming hard for goals.
They also showed both muscle and nerve. It was a game in which the Canucks stood up for each other, and that hasn’t always been the case in recent team history.
Alex Burrows set the tone by mimicking Phil Kessel’s recent stick-slashing showdown with John Scott in the game’s first few minutes. Not long after, Kessel was so incensed he was fighting Burrows. It was some of Burrows’ best pestering in years.
Not surprisingly, the Sedins were subsequently targeted. David Clarkson threw a punch at Daniel and whiffed. Joffrey Lupul threw a flying elbow at Henrik. The Canucks captain later explained he saw it coming and ducked. Lupul hit Nazem Kadri instead.
John Tortorella embraced it and even seemed to relish in all of it after the game.
“I thought we backed one another up,” the coach said. “It’s part of the game. Burr gets under Kessel’s skin and he fights him. Someone’s going to go after one of our guys.
“We talked about it. If someone goes after the Sedins, someone has to step in. That’s part of the game. It’s part of the game, honestly, that’s missing as we’ve gone through the evolution. The Sedins know it. The Sedins played right through it.”
It wasn’t quite the famous “he pulls knife, you pull a gun” quote from the Untouchables, but the message wasn’t far off.
The play got the arena jumping. It was as alive as you’ll see a Canucks home game during the regular season. There lots of reasons though. There were the series scrums, the excitement of hanging No. 10, the Kessel vs. Burrows fight, and, of course, Mason Raymond’s return. And yes, he did fall.
The Canucks got off to a one-goal lead and were unrelenting with their forecheck.
Kassian scored the Canucks second goal on the same shift he ran Bolland into the boards. With Bolland unable to put any weight on his left leg after the laceration, Kassian pumped one in from the slot.
“I have a lot of respect for him,” Kassian said of Bolland.
“He’s a hard-nosed player who plays tough.”
There are places where a felled villain, like Bolland is here, would have been cheered. But Saturday, the fans stayed classy.
The opening goal was a beauty. After Kadri took a penalty, Kesler was manning the net front when he tipped a shot out, instead of in, to Henrik Sedin. The Canucks captain rifled the puck in off of Daniel’s jersey.
Henrik said it’s a set play that worked. Not much didn’t.
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