TORONTO (AP) — Alex Burrows and Daniel Sedin each scored twice, and Henrik Sedin added a goal to help the Vancouver Canucks rally for their season-high seventh straight victory, 5-3 over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Vancouver overcame a three-goal, first-period deficit that resulted in the rare benching of star goalie Roberto Luongo. Phil Kessel scored twice, and Jamal Mayers also scored for Toronto, winless in its last six games.
All signs had seemed to suggest it would be a long night for the Leafs, who limped home Friday night after an overtime loss in New Jersey. The defeat capped what was another trying week in Toronto with veteran forward Jamal Mayers and defenseman Garnet Exelby both requesting trades out of town.
The team was also forced to take the ice without defenseman Mike Komisarek, who had been aiming to return from injury. The 28-year-old, who has been sidelined with what is believed to be a shoulder injury since Jan. 2, may soon have to make a decision on his future with the U.S. Olympic team.
Vancouver, meanwhile, came in rested. The Canucks practiced in Toronto on Friday as they kicked off their NHL-record, 14-game road swing to make room for the Olympics.
It qualified as a surprise, then, to see Kessel stake the Leafs to a 1-0 lead 52 seconds after the puck was dropped. Kessel scored his second less than 3 minutes later on a power play, something the Leafs had not managed to do in three games.
Mayers gave the home side a 3-0 lead 5 seconds before the end of the first when he blasted a shot past Luongo. The goal ultimately chased the Canadian Olympic goalie to the bench, and sent the crowd into full roar — and maybe a few giggles as reviled former Leaf Andrew Raycroft took over in relief.
The Leafs were rolling. They killed three penalties over the opening 20 minutes, a rarity this season, and seemed to have uncovered the best that Toskala could offer between the pipes.
Vancouver seemed to gain traction in the second period, slowly wrenching more control of the game. Burrows got the Canucks on the board when he picked Alexei Ponikarovsky's pocket at the Vancouver blue line, sparking a breakaway that ended with a nifty backhander that beat Toskala.
The rally continued into the third, first with a goal from Daniel Sedin, followed moments later by a goal from brother Henrik. Burrows assisted on both goals, continuing the torrid pace the trio set when the calendar flipped into the New Year, which had seen the veteran forward compile 22 points in his previous 17 games.
Toronto, 0-25-6 when trailing after two periods this season, had never managed to lose a game in regulation when leading after 40 minutes. The Leafs were 13-0-2 when holding the advantage, though that advantage seemed increasingly precarious as the third period progressed.
NOTES: More than 360 Canadian Forces personnel attended the game at the invitation of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. Gen. Walter Natynczyk officiated the ceremonial puck drop before the game, and was visited at center ice by former Leafs goalie Johnny Bower, who was in full military garb. . . Canucks defenseman Sami Salo missed his fourth straight game with a groin injury.