VANCOUVER —On a day built on nostalgia for the Vancouver Canucks of the 90s, fans at Rogers Arena were hoping the return of the retro skate logo would bring the team back to the days of Pavel Bure and Trevor Linden. In the end, they got a whole lot of Alek Stojanov and Shawn Antoski.
Indeed, the only people who will look back fondly on the Leafs’ 5-2 win over the Canucks (22-21-12) are Mark Arcobello and Brendan Leipsic. Arcobello, who hadn’t netted a goal all season, scored twice in a span of 17 seconds while Leipsic scored in his first NHL game, helping the Leafs snap a three-game losing skid.
“It feels amazing,” Leipsic said. “You work hard all your life to get to this point.”
The nostalgia started early when #7 Linden Vey and #14 Alex Burrows broke out on a short-handed 2-on-1 that reminded fans of Cliff Ronning and Geoff Courtnall.
Later in the first period, #5 Luca Sbisa coughed up the puck like Dana Murzyn to give Jake Gardiner a quality scoring chance.
The Leafs outshot the Canucks 16-7 in the opening stanza.
The Canucks grabbed the lead 3:18 into the second. Jannik Hansen stole the puck behind the Leafs net and fed it in front to Sedin, who buried his 22nd of the season and first in seven games.
The Leafs responded a minute later when an Arcobello wrist shot beat goaltender Ryan Miller on the glove side.
Seventeen seconds later, Canucks forward #17 Radim Vrbata demonstrated all the mobility of Vladimir Krutov, letting Gardiner skate past him to set up Arcobello’s second of the night.
In the third period Leipsic batted a puck a past Miller to give the Leafs a 3-1 lead.
Sven Baertschi brought the Canucks to within one with less than two minutes remaining, but empty net goals from Brad Boyes and Leo Komarov sealed the win for the Leafs.
Leafs fans decked out in blue and white chanted “Go Leafs Go” as the final seconds wound down before the Toronto players spilled over the boards to celebrate their victory.
“It’s nice to have a big win on the road and get some confidence back as a team and some smiling faces again,” said Arcobello. “The object here is to win games and tonight was just a step in the right direction.”
Maple Leafs centre Nazem Kadri missed Saturday’s game against the Canucks with a lower-body injury.
Captain Henrik Sedin played his 1,141st game in a Canucks uniform, becoming the team’s all-time leader in games played.
“We did everything that teams do to lose games,” Henrik said. “Execution, smartness, timely goals … we did everything wrong in a game we must win.”
The Canucks hope to bounce back Monday when they take on the Minnesota N̶o̶r̶t̶h̶ ̶S̶t̶a̶r̶s̶ Wild at Rogers Arena.
– With files from The Canadian Press