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Virtanen Scores Twice

Vancouver returns home on a rainy Thursday night following a split in Winnipeg to face the high flying Toronto Maple Leaf’s who currently sit in first in the Canadian division with a record of 18-4-2 with 38 points through 24 games.

The Canucks on the other hand sit in sixth with a record of 9-15-2 with 20 points through 26 games who will be without Elias Pettersson for tonight’s game with no reason for him sitting out of the line-up.

Toronto is currently 2nd in the PP %, while Vancouver sits in 23rd sporting a 17.4% with a PK % of 80.4 sitting in 14th place to Toronto who sit 12th with a PK% of 80.6.

Regardless of who is in net, Thatcher Demko or Braden Holtby Vancouver is in need of wins hopefully grabbing both games in this recent home stand facing Toronto in both games that see’s them featured Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada with the face-off set for 4 pm.

The revolving door continues in net which seems to be going round and round, but on this night Vancouver’s return home has Thatcher Demko (5-9-1) get the start managing to have a SV% of .907.

The Leaf’s came to town following the shellacking having played the previous night that saw them pound the Oilers 6-1 with Anderson getting the win while Smith was on the losing end of the scoreboard.

With many sportscasters in the area pondering the idea that Vancouver would get hammered, the Canucks on the other hand had different ideas.

It was almost like Vancouver’s scapegoat Jake Virtanen was on the out’s, but he utilized his speed going down the left side, cutting to the front of the net, chipping one over Hutchinson.

Many were somewhat surprised that Toronto started Michael Hutchinson (3-1-0) over Frederik Andersen (12-3-0-2) through 17 games but it was probably more for a rest than anything else, remembering that he could play Saturday.

The fast start for Vancouver continued which seemed to frustrate Toronto considering that Vancouver were being outshot by a 15-6 margin before the Leaf’s got one on the board tying the game.

The first ended with Toronto outshooting the Canucks by a 15-7 tally in a period that saw Vancouver unable to finish close in around the net.

The start of the second saw the Leaf’s hit the ice first looking more determined to put  the first behind them in hopes of controlling the second, but it’s a wait and see 20 minutes.

Toronto continued to press, managing to outshoot the Canucks 21-7 b y the six minute mark of the second putting several moves on Vancouver’s “D” that seemed to confuse them at times only to have Demko come to the rescue.

It wasn’t until 10:15 of the second that saw the first penalty assessed for Tripping to Toronto’s Justin Holl that allowed Virtanen to notch his second of the game and third of the season at 11:29 sending one top shelf threading the needle them up 2-1.

The second saw Vancouver narrowly outshoot Toronto by a 11-10 margin after two, but between periods the take took a turn to Walter Gretzky who passed away earlier this evening, which I will have more of in an upcoming article.

With the Leaf’s pressing on close-in plays it was Horvat who got his 10th of the season after being set up by Edler and Schmidt at 7:56 giving the Canucks a 3-1 lead.

The third started with Vancouver coming out with more of a jump narrowing the shot gap with each team trading chances that saw the Canucks come within two (28-26) with five minutes left.

Toronto threw shot after shot at Demko some off target while others were marked to bulge the twine only to be turned aside that seemed more like a confidence booster for a team who of late has been struggling.

Vancouver is on the home stand with a rematch against the Leaf’s Saturday at 4 pm to appease the centre of the universe 

Vancouver managed 54% of the face-offs with 20 hits while Toronto only managed 46% with 18 hits that saw the final shots 33-28 Toronto

The following is off the Canucks site:

  • Thursday’s game marked the fourth of nine meetings between Toronto and Vancouver this season, and the first at home: Feb. 4 (7-3 L), Feb. 6 (5-1 L), Feb. 8 (3-1 L), Mar. 4 (home), Mar. 6 (home), Apr. 17 (home), Apr. 19 (home), Apr. 30 (road), May 1 (road).
  • Vancouver is 3-6-1 in their last 10 games vs Toronto (0-5-0 in their last 5).
  • The Canucks have a 65-60-22-3 all-time record in 150 contests vs the Maple Leaf’s.
  • Vancouver owns a 39-24-11-2 all-time record at home vs Toronto. Brock Boeser (1-2-3), Elias Pettersson (1-2-3), and Quinn Hughes (0-3-3) lead the Canucks in scoring in the 2020.21 season series vs Toronto.
  • Among active Canucks skaters, J.T. Miller has the most career points vs the Maple Leaf’s with 15 (7-8-15) in 22 games.
  • Quinn Hughes is slated to play in his 100th career NHL game.