VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks haven’t lost at home to the Toronto Maple Leafs since 2003 and, happily, for them the streak will continue.
The Canucks took care of the reeling Leafs 4-1 Saturday at Rogers Arena, the two points more important than any kind of home-ice hex they have over the Buds.
With the victory, the Canucks moved back into second place in the Pacific Division, one point up on the idle Calgary Flames. Both teams have played 68 games and both have the specter of the Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings taking a run at them.
Brad Richardson, back in the lineup after missing 24 games with an ankle injury, made a Gretzky-in-his-office pass to Chris Higgins to open the scoring at 16:44 of the first period and the Canucks were on their way.
Derek Dorsett, with his first in 24 games, and Jannik Hansen scored 32 seconds apart in the middle period. The Canucks penalty killers perhaps saved the night in the second when Zack Kassian (hooking), Luca Sbisa (holding), Chris Tanev (hooking) and Yannick Weber (holding) took minor penalties between the 4:07 and 10:41 marks. The Leafs had a 5-on-3 for 25 seconds during that span.
The Dorsett and Hansen goals were sandwiched between the Kassian and Sbisa penalties.
Phil Kessel spoiled Eddie Lack’s shutout bid at 12:38 of the third when he went backhand top-shelf on a penalty shot after Henrik Sedin turned over the puck in the offensive zone and then hooked Kessel all the way down the ice. Shawn Matthias added an empty-netter to complete the scoring. Dorsett picked up an assist on the Matthias goal for a three-point night.
The game turned ugly for Kassian later in the second when he was jousting with Leaf captain Dion Phaneuf, took a punch he didn’t like and wound up on the ice entangled with linesman Jay Sharrers and with his jersey off. Kassian was tossed from the game after being assessed a minor for roughing, a 10-minute misconduct and game misconduct. He finished the night with 24 PIMs.
Veteran Canuck winger Alex Burrows missed Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury. Canuck healthy scratches Saturday were Linden Vey, Brandon McMillan, Ryan Stanton, Adam Clendening and Frank Corrado.
The Leafs fell to 8-23-3 on the road, the league’s second worst record away from home. Only the Buffalo Sabres, at 7-24-3, have fewer road points.
The game was sellout, just the 11th full house (18,870) of the season in 33 home dates.
ICE CHIPS: Prior to the game, the Canucks announced the signing of 20-year-old defenceman Ashton Sautner, captain of the Edmonton Oil Kings. He’ll report to the AHL Utica Comets when his WHL season is done… … Leaf centre Nazim Kadri was back in the Toronto lineup after a three-game team-imposed suspension.