Markstrom, Canucks fend off Maple Leafs
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Jacob Markstrom took his latest near miss at his first NHL shutout in stride.
The Vancouver Canucks goaltender was 2:52 away from earning that milestone victory before giving up a goal in a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
“We scored two,” shrugged Markstrom, who has started 114 games without a shutout. “It gave me an opportunity to let one in. Obviously, it would have been nice to get it out of the way, but I don’t really care about it anymore.
“Obviously you want to make it (a shutout) happen, but I’d take this any day of the week for sure.”
It’s not the first time Markstrom has seen a shutout disappear late in a game.
“What do you have to do for it?” he said. “It is what it is. You can’t beat yourself up.”
Vancouver got first-period goals from Markus Granlund and Alex Edler then relied heavily on Markstrom for the final 40 minutes. The Canucks were outshot 25-9 over the final two periods. Markstrom finished with 35 saves.
“I think he won the game for us,” said Daniel Sedin, who earned an assist for his 1,002nd career point. “The last 40 minutes it was all Toronto.
“We had a few shifts in their end but not a whole lot.”
Markstrom credited his defense with blocking shots and jamming the passing lanes.
“From the puck drop to the end, I felt really comfortable,” he said. “Our guys played an unbelievable game. “
For the second consecutive game, Vancouver (13-10-4) managed to cool a hot team. The Leafs (17-10-1) lost for only the fourth time in 13 games (9-3-1).
On Thursday in Nashville, the Canucks defeated the Predators, who had won six in a row at home and were 12-1-0 in their last 13 coming into the game.
“We battled hard in Nashville and we battled hard tonight,” Edler said. “Those are two very good teams.
“This team tonight, they have so much skill up front. I felt like it was a battle all the way through.”
Granlund opened the scoring at 6:22 of the first, taking advantage of an Auston Matthews turnover. He scooped up the puck just inside the blue line, took a couple of strides, then scored his fourth goal of the season with a shot over goaltender Frederik Andersen’s glove.
Edler made it 2-0 at 11:14 on a delayed penalty. Henrik Sedin connected with Edler with a pretty cross-ice pass. He scored his first goal of the season on a shot from the faceoff circle that beat Andersen on the stick side.
“I had quite a bit of room, there was an opening there,” Edler said. “It was probably not the hardest shot.”
Edler said the Canucks wanted to get the shutout for Markstrom.
“You always want to get your goalie a shutout, but the win is the biggest thing for us and I know it’s for him too,” he said. “He was competing so hard, making a lot of great saves.”
James van Riemsdyk scored Toronto’s goal when he deflected Morgan Rielly’s shot from the point past Markstrom.
Matthews said Markstrom was a puzzle the Leafs couldn’t figure out until too late.
“Their goalie made some pretty good saves,” he said. “I thought we could have done a better job of having a guy in front of the him.
“Our first period was pretty brutal. We picked it up in the second and third.”
The Leafs won two of three games on their Western Canadian road trip, but coach Mike Babcock wanted the sweep.
“I’m greedy,” he said. “Tonight, we didn’t get ready and the first period cost us. We spent the whole night playing catch up.
“We had lots of opportunities. Their goaltender was good but in saying all that, we weren’t ready to go at the start. You play catch-up hockey it’s usually losing hockey.”
Andersen made 24 saves for Toronto.
NOTES: Prior to the game, LW Daniel Sedin was honored for collecting his 999th, 1,000th and 1,001st point in Vancouver’s win over Nashville on Thursday. ... LW Daniel Sedin and C Henrik Sedin are the only brothers in NHL history to each score 1,000 points. ... C Markus Granlund’s goal was his first point in seven games. ... C Alex Burmistrov and D Alex Biega were healthy scratches. ... The Canucks’ didn’t get a shot on goal in the second period until 11:42. ... Canucks D Troy Stecher took a shot on his foot in the first period before being hit in the face by a puck in the second. ... Toronto C Tyler Bozak missed the game with the flu. ... The Maple Leafs’ healthy scratches were D Connor Carrick and RW Nikita Soshnikov. ... Ten of Toronto’s 13 games in December are on the road.