Matt Iaboni December 18, 2010
The Maple Leafs had cut the Canucks' lead to 2-1 in the third on Mikhail Grabovski's 11th of the year which gave them some much-needed momentum.
It was short lived as Vancouver sealed the win with just over five minutes left in the third period. As Ryan Kesler screened Jonas Gustavsson, Christian Ehroff's point shot eluded the Leafs' netminder. It ended any hope for a comeback.
Leafs' penalty killers were perfect against the top-rated power play.
Canucks centre Ryan Kesler was a beast against the Maple Leafs on Saturday. Although he picked up just one assist, it was his overall game that made him such a tough matchup for the Leafs.
Kesler has now registered eight points in his last five games. Vancouver is a remarkable 15-1-1 when he has at least one point. One area where Kesler was exceptional was in the face-off circle winning 67 per cent. He led all forwards on the night in ice-time with 22:22.
With J.S. Giguere suffering another groin injury, Jonas Gustavsson made his first start since December 8th agaisnt Pittsburgh. He was solid between the pipes against Vancouver.
Despite allowing three goals, Gustavsson couldn't be faulted on any of the goals. Two of the goals were scored from right on top of the crease and on the third there was traffic in front. Despite having lost six of his last eight starts but the record doesn't indicate his play.
There is no doubt that the Leafs are glad they are in the Eastern Conference and only have to face the Canucks twice a year.
With the loss on Saturday, the Leafs have lost eight straight games to Vancouver. Wondering the last time the Leafs defeated the Canucks? You would have to go back to November 2003 when the Leafs swept a home-and-home series. The Leafs' all-time record is 52-57-22-1 and in Vancouver it is 24-33-11.
Ron Wilson's take on the game against Vancouver:
"I thought we played well and probably didn't get enough shots through and not enough traffic. At the end of the day only one line scored again. The guys have got to do what they're paid to do, which is score some goals."
Monday, December 20 vs. Atlanta
7 PM ET (Sportsnet, AM640)
The Maple Leafs return home from the road trip to take on the surprising Atlanta Thrashers in their final game before the Christmas break.
Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd have had great seasons so far as they are first and second on the team in scoring. Atlanta defeated New Jersey 7-1 Saturday.