Arcobello, Leipsic lead Maple Leafs over Vancouver Canucks
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Brendan Leipsic knew he would be playing on one coast or the other Saturday night.
He’s glad he got the call to go west.
The rookie forward scored his first NHL goal in his first game, Mark Arcobello scored his first two goals this season 17 seconds apart and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 to end a three-game skid.
“It feels amazing,” he said. “You work hard all your life to get to this point.”
Leipsic was getting ready to travel with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League to St. John’s for a weekend set with the IceCaps in Newfoundland when the injury-depleted Leafs informed him he was needed in Vancouver.
“I was kind of in limbo, not sure if I was going to get the call this way,” the 21-year-old said. “It was one end of Canada or the other. I’m happy it was this one.”
As is custom in the league these days, the Leafs let Leipsic lead them out for warmups, but they made the Winnipeg native do a couple solo laps before joining him on the ice.
“I expected that,” said Leipsic, who was acquired in a trade with Nashville last season. “I had a lot of fun with it. That’s all about your first-game experience. You only get one first game.”
James Reimer made 17 saves and Jake Gardiner added two assists for Toronto, which entered play last in the overall standings and won in regulation for just the second time since Jan. 6. Brad Boyes and Leo Komarov added empty-netters.
The Maple Leafs were just 3-10-2 over their last 15 and stunned the hockey world by trading captain Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa earlier this week. They used a lineup that included a number of youngsters and minor leaguers.
“We finally started to get the bounces and got rewarded for all our shots and traffic and just doing the right things,” Reimer said. “It was a good feeling.”
Daniel Sedin and Sven Baertschi scored for Vancouver, which had won two in a row to get back in the Western Conference playoff race after dropping four straight. Ryan Miller made 33 saves.
“We did everything that teams do to lose games,” Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. “Execution, smartness, timely goals ... we did everything wrong in a game we must win.”
Up 2-1 after two periods and leading 31-13 on the shot clock, Toronto stretched its advantage to two at 3:54 of the third. Leipsic, an emergency injury callup from the AHL, batted the puck home in front of a helpless Miller after Rich Clune’s initial shot bounced high off a Vancouver defender.
Baertschi buried a rebound with 1:47 left in regulation for his 11th, but Boyes got his sixth and Komarov his 18th to help Toronto collect its first win in Vancouver since November 2003 to snap a seven-game losing streak.
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 a complete victory.
After a scoreless first where Toronto held a 16-7 edge in shots, 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.
Arcobello, who was pointless in 13 games before Saturday, got that one back 1:09 later when he jumped on a Canucks turnover and ripped a shot past Miller.
In the third game of his most recent callup, Arcobello then gave his team the lead just 17 seconds later when Gardiner drove past Radim Vrbata and Arcobello shoveled the loose puck past Miller.
Toronto had been outscored 15-6 in its last three games, and nearly went up 3-1 on an extended 5-on-3 power play, but Morgan Rielly had one shot hit the post before Miller snagged another with his glove.
The Canucks have now failed to win three in a row six times this season. They donned black throwback jerseys that featured the “flying skate” logo the club abandoned after the 1996-97 season as part of 20th anniversary celebrations for Rogers Arena.
NOTES: The Canucks announced Friday that defenseman Alexander Edler and forward Brandon Sutter will miss at least six weeks each after suffering injuries in a 3-1 win over Colorado on Tuesday night. Edler was hurt blocking a shot with his foot, while Sutter broke his jaw after taking a puck to the face. ... Leafs center Nazem Kadri sat out for a second night in a row with a lower-body injury. ... Henrik Sedin played his 1,141th game for the Canucks to pass team president Trevor Linden for the career record.