TORONTO — Noah Gregor had a goal and an assist, William Nylander scored to extend his franchise-record season-opening point streak to 15 games and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 on Saturday night.
Matthew Knies, Nick Robertson and David Kampf also scored for Toronto, and Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi and Bobby McMann each added two assists. Ilya Samsonov made 31 saves.
The Maple Leafs improved to 6-3-2 in their last 11 games
“We’ve been trending in the right direction,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “It hasn’t always looked that way, but inside these walls, and from a coaching perspective, we’ve looked at a lot of things that were moving in the right direction. I thought this was a perfect way, and the perfect opponent, for us to finish this homestand.”
J.T. Miller and Pius Suter had goals for Vancouver, which snapped a five-game winning streak and fell to 8-1-1 in its last 10 games. Thatcher Demko stopped 17 shots.
“It wasn’t a great one, but we’ve been playing some good hockey,” Vancouver captain Quinn Hughes said. “There’s going to be nights like this, and nights where we feel real good about ourselves.”
Toronto, which beat Calgary 5-4 in a shootout Friday after squandering a 4-1 lead, allowed fewer than four goals on home ice for the first time this season.
Down 2-1 after 20 minutes, the Maple Leafs tied it at 4:53 of the second period when Nylander banked a shot in off Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers for his 10th goal and 22nd point of the season. Demko had robbed Bertuzzi moments earlier.
Toronto then pushed ahead for the first time when Gregor took a pass from Morgan Rielly and snapped in his second with 5:38 left.
Robertson then stretched the Leafs’ advantage to 4-2 at 4:56 of the third when he chipped his second up and over Demko.
Kampf then put things to bed at 9:13 when he tipped Gregors shot in for his first.
Criticized for the lack of a physical response after defenseman Timothy Liljegren was injured on a questionable sequence involving Boston captain Brad Marchand earlier this month, the Maple Leafs got physical early.
Toronto defenseman Mark Giordano — the oldest player in the NHL — dropped the gloves and went toe-to-toe with Vancouver center Dakota Joshua following a hit on David Kampf, but received an extra two minute penalty for instigating along with a 10-minute misconduct.
“I get fired up out there sometimes,” said Giordano, who got raucous approval from the Scotiabank Arena crowd. “One of those situations where you see your teammate down on the ice — big hit. … (Joshua’s) a big boy. I went over there and I was like, ‘Oh boy, here we go.’”
The Canucks made the Maple Leafs pay on the ensuing power play when Miller snapped his ninth goal of the season at 5:43 of the first.
Toronto responded right after a Vancouver penalty expired 2:54 later when Knies banged home his fourth on a scramble.
Ian Cole then leveled Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson with another clean hit that resulted in Domi fighting the Canucks’ defenseman.
That led to another instigator penalty for Toronto, which Vancouver capitalized on when Suter scored his fourth on a rebound with 4:12 left in the opening period as the Maple Leafs’ porous penalty kill surrendered its 12th goal against in 11 games. Canucks defenseman Filip Hronek picked up an assist to stretch his point streak to nine contests.
“The game works in funny ways,” Keefe said of not being able to kill off the instigator penalties. “We built up some good karma through (the fights) — guys sticking together, stepping up, big moments, get the crowd involved. It seemed like it pulled our team together to just go out and play.”
Canucks: At Montreal on Sunday night to finish a three-game trip.
Maple Leafs: Face Detroit on Friday night in Stockholm, Sweden, to open a two-game stretch as part of the NHL Global Series.
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