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

Surrey Fire Service at a garage fire in the 14400-block of 82A Ave on March 22, 2021. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
‘Perfect storm’ of variants, increasing COVID cases are concerning for Surrey fire chief

Between police and fire, Larry Thomas said there are 8 confirmed cases, 18 others isolating

Surrey Fire Service is on scene of a fire in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue Saturday morning (April 10). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews on scene of house fire

It happened in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Small plane crashes at Delta’s Boundary Bay Airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage

Signage on a South Surrey sidewalk reminds pedestrians to respect social-distancing guidelines. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey records 4,400 COVID-19 cases in March

New cases almost doubled between February, March

Surrey RCMP are looking for these two men after a bank in the 12800-block of 96th Avenue was robbed on March 12. (Images: Surrey RCMP)
Police release images of two men suspected of robbing Surrey bank

Robbery happened on March 12 at bank in 12800-block of 96th Avenue

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

People stroll through rows of tulips in bloom during the Tulips of the Valley Festival on May 2, 2017. The colourful spring event, now called Chilliwack Tulips, opens on Sunday, April 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Fraser Valley tulip attraction returns this weekend for 1 month

More than 6.5 million bulbs in all at this year’s colourful Chilliwack Tulips event

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Most Read