Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) looks on as Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Zach Hyman (11) fights for control of the puck with Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers (57) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Thursday, March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) looks on as Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Zach Hyman (11) fights for control of the puck with Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers (57) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Thursday, March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Virtanen scores 2, Canucks pick up much-needed 3-1 win over Toronto

Maple Leafs were coming off a three-game sweep over Edmonton

Jake Virtanen scored twice, propelling the Vancouver Canucks to a much-needed 3-1 win over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday.

Bo Horvat also scored for Vancouver (10-15-2), burying a snap shot midway through the third period to give his side some breathing room.

Pierre Engvall had the lone goal for the Leafs (18-5-2) with Ilya Mikheyev notching an assist.

Thatcher Demko stood tall in the Canucks net, stopping 32 shots. The Leafs got 24 saves from Michael Hutchinson.

Toronto was coming off a three-game sweep of the Oilers, including a 6-1 win in Edmonton on Wednesday. Thursday’s result snapped a four-game win streak that saw the Leafs outscore their opposition 15-2.

The Canucks were playing without star centre Elias Pettersson, who left morning skate with an upper-body injury Thursday and is considered day-to-day.

Auston Matthews nearly clawed out a second goal for the Leafs with less than two minutes left on the clock, but Demko stretched out across the net for an eye-popping last-second save.

While the Canucks have struggled with holding leads this season, they appeared determined Thursday to not let another game slip away.

The squad started the third period with aggression, controlling the puck and peppering Hutchinson with shots.

Horvat got one past the Toronto netminder 7:56 into the frame, collecting a crisp pass from defenceman Alex Edler and instantly launching a blast from the top hash marks.

Horvat’s 10th goal of the season put Vancouver up 3-1.

Midway through the second, Toronto’s Justin Holl was called for tripping, leading to a big power play for the Canucks.

READ MORE: Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

READ MORE: Full Canucks coverage here

Despite the man advantage, Demko was forced to make his most impressive save of the night when Alexander Kerfoot and Mikheyev got a short-handed 2-on-1.

Kerfoot sliced a last-second pass to Mikheyev in front of the net and Demko deftly slid across the crease, stacking his pads to make the stop.

At the other end of the ice, Virtanen took a sharp-angle shot that snuck into the space between Hutchinson’s left shoulder and the crossbar to put Vancouver up 2-1.

It was the 24-year-old winger’s second goal of the night and his third of the season.

He opened the scoring 2:59 into Thursday’s game.

Virtanen muscled his way into Toronto’s zone with speed and chipped a backhanded shot on net. Hutchinson seemed to get a piece of the puck before it popped up and over the goal line to give the Canucks the early lead.

Engvall responded for the Leafs 17:15 into the period, sending a wrist shot from low in the slot over Demko’s shoulder to knot the score at 1-1 heading into intermission.

The Leafs and Canucks will battle again Saturday in Vancouver.

NOTES: Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes played his 100th NHL game. He has 79 points (10 goals, 69 assists) across his career. … Marc Michaelis played his first NHL game. The 25-year-old left-winger signed with Vancouver as a free agent in March 2020 after playing four years at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

CanuckshockeyNHLToronto

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

Greater Victoria had more new cases than any other Island area: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

‘For Sale’ signs quickly turned to ‘Sold’ signs as record-high demand for housing meets record-low inventory. (Cole Schisler photo)
Multiple offers and unconditional sales rampant in Ladysmith housing market

Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Zone 3 director Susan Perrey says the market is ‘crazy all around’

From left to right: Vicki Barta, Bruce Ormond, Greg Heide, Gord McInnis, and Charles Harman rehearse via zoom for the upcoming radio play, “Visitor from Planet Zoltan”. (Submitted photo)
Radio plays prove successful for Ladysmith Little Theatre, four more in production

Ladysmith Little Theatre pivoted to producing radio plays during the pandemic

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees in Oyster Bay

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Ladysmith’s Taylor Walters received the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award and is hard at work pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Human-Computer Interaction at Quest University. (Submitted photo)
Ladysmith teen receives Terry Fox Humanitarian Award for advocating equal access to STEM opportunities

‘Different people think differently and that’s so important for innovation,’ Taylor Walters says

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Officers surround building as homeowner held in apartment for nearly four hours by adult son

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour Pacific Rim highway closures planned in the next 6 weeks

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

Bulldogs forward Stephen Castagna flips the puck into the Clippers zone during a game on Oct. 24. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Island BCHL game postponed due to ‘potential positive’ COVID-19 test

Nanaimo Clippers team suspends activities, players isolating pending further test results

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

Most Read