Toronto Maple Leafs forward Richard Panik, bottom right, celebrates his goal with teammates against the Vancouver Canucks during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette
AP Photo
December 06, 2014

TORONTO (AP) Ryan Miller sat on the bench and didn't look up. Already chased from the game, he had to listen to the call of Sidney Crosby beating him for the gold medal at the Olympics four years ago as it was replayed on the Air Canada Centre's video screen.

It was just that kind of night for Miller and the Vancouver Canucks, as they lost 5-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

''I just didn't make the saves the guys needed,'' said Miller, who was pulled after allowing four goals on 14 shots.

The Canucks outshot the Maple Leafs 46-28 but were stifled by goalie Jonathan Bernier, who was stellar in making 44 saves.

''We can thank him for the win tonight,'' Toronto defenseman Stephane Robidas said. ''It's one of those that he stole the game for us.''

Bernier was on his game early and often.

''Tonight I felt really good. I was seeing pucks well,'' Bernier said, citing his familiarity with the Canucks as a reason for his success. ''I was just trying to stay patient tonight and stay on my feet as much as possible.''

It also helped that Canucks defenseman Yannick Weber put the puck in his own net on a goal that was credited to Jake Gardiner and that Richard Panik scored less than a minute later to give the Leafs some room to breathe.

Peter Holland and Joffrey Lupul also scored for the Leafs, who rebounded well from a poor effort Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils. David Clarkson added an empty-netter for his eighth goal of the season.

Daniel Sedin and Christopher Tanev had Vancouver's goals in a game the Canucks believed they deserved better despite falling into a deep hole.

''Even down 4-0, I thought we created enough chances to come back in the game,'' Vancouver's Henrik Sedin said. ''We hit a few posts and weren't able to score more than two.''

Backup goaltender Eddie Lack stopped all 13 shots he faced in relief for the Canucks, who continue their Eastern Conference tour Sunday night at Ottawa. Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins didn't say which goalie would start against the Senators.

It was a rare bad night for Desjardins against the Leafs, as he entered with a 32-15-3 record, 2.47 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in his career against Toronto.

''He's probably used up his luck in some of those other games,'' Desjardins said. ''It (didn't go) his way tonight. He's a good goaltender. He had tough shots tonight. It wasn't his fault.''

The Leafs struggled to generate momentum for much of the first two periods and got into penalty trouble, especially in the second period. One of those penalties belonged to Robidas for elbowing Canucks forward Shawn Matthias in the head. Robidas said he wasn't trying to hurt Matthias, who left and did not return.

Even with their parade to the penalty box, the Leafs stood tall. Bernier was their best player on the penalty-kill as they went 6-for-6.

''If you're in games like ... tonight and your penalty killing doesn't rise to the occasion, your chances of winning are almost nil,'' Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. ''Our PK guys did a heck of a job for us, and our goalie was outstanding.''

It certainly wasn't the sharpest of efforts from the Leafs, who needed a couple of breaks like the Canucks hitting the post and then the cross-bar in quick succession on the power play in the third period. Henrik Sedin believed he and his teammates could win the game if they had scored there to make it 4-3, but Bernier was glad the iron helped him out.

''They got two back-to-back there,'' Bernier said. ''Sometimes you need that luck.''

The Leafs could consider themselves lucky to come out of this one with two points. It was an all-too-familiar story with them being outshot badly and leaning on Bernier to get the job done.

But again, it worked.

''It's not part of a recipe to have success,'' Robidas said. ''You can't give up over 40 shots and expect to win every night. ... They made some big plays, and again Bernie was there to make key saves at the right time.''

NOTES: With the empty-netter and an assist, Clarkson had his first multi-point game with the Leafs. ... Toronto winger David Booth picked up a secondary assist on Panik's goal, his first point of the season. Booth was bought out by the Canucks over the summer. ... Holland's goal was his second in three career games against Vancouver. ... Before the game, the Leafs activated winger Brandon Kozun off long-term injured reserve and placed defenseman Roman Polak on the injured list. Kozun did not play as Panik remained in the lineup.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)