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The Goods: Road warriors

Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 8:00 PM PT / Features
By Derek Jory
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The Goods: Road warriors
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Observing tradition is important, especially during the holiday season.

The Vancouver Canucks did just that Saturday night beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

The win, during which the Canucks never trailed, is the ninth straight over the Maple Leafs dating back to November 24, 2003 and fifth consecutive at the ACC. Vancouver closes out a five-game road trip at 3-1-1.

Forget Madison Square Garden and the New York Rangers, for the Canucks, beating the Maple Leafs, especially in Toronto, is a quintessential victory.

And on this night it began a mere 1:02 into the first period when Chris Higgins netted his ninth goal of the season,
although the 1-0 lead was short-lived with the Maple Leafs responding less than three minutes later.

Mason Raymond and Tyler Bozak traded goals in the second period, an entertaining 20 minutes to say the least with both teams conjuring some great scoring chances. In
stepped Roberto Luongo and Jonas Gustavsson, who finished the night with 26 and 31 saves each, respectively.

The Canucks peppered Gustavsson with 13 shots in the second and they managed to beat him again late off a terrific passing play that had Alex Burrows set up Daniel Sedin
for his team-leading 13th goal of the season to make it 3-2 Canucks.

Burrows scored with less than six minutes left in the third to ice the game – or so I thought as I began mashing my hands on the keyboard typing this story. Phil Kessel cut the Vancouver lead to 4-3 with 2:43 remaining as gasps were heard from fans of both teams.

Effort, unadulterated Danish effort, helped the Canucks finish off their 19th win of the season as Jannik Hansen by outraced Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf down the left side before beating Gustavsson with a sneaky shot.

There was nothing devious about the Vancouver win. It was hard earned.

“We just made the right plays with the puck at their blue line and our blue line,” said Luongo, breaking down the win. “We made sure we got it out of our zone and deep into their zone and we didn’t want to have any turnovers to generate their offence. I think we did a great job in the third period especially.

“We were a little disappointed with our last two games against Columbus and Carolina, I think we responded really well tonight, we played a great team game and it’s nice to end
a big road trip like that.”

Oh Canada: of Vancouver’s three wins on their eastern road trip, all three came against foes from our home and native land.

The Canucks will have to correct their American errors with the Northwest Division leading Minnesota Wild, the NHL’s best team in terms of points, visiting Rogers Arena Monday night.

“Minnesota has been playing really well this year, it’s going to be great for our team,” said Luongo. “Our first game off a road trip we want to make sure we’ve got good legs
going and we’ve got a good tempo to the game because they’re a team that’s not going to give up much.”

Although it's tempting, don't try to compete with Don Cherry when piecing together an outfit for the night.
Tweet of the night - “winnipeg just got an #nhl team, about time #toronto gets one too ;) #leafs #canucks"
-@shreyakhanna_; that's not nice, but it's hilarious.
Hodgson plays Santa - Cody Hodgson, playing in his home province for the first time as a member of the Canucks,
bought 10 tickets for his family and one for his 1st Grade teacher. That sure beats an apple.
Saturday night's alright - All the big guns gonna shoot out the lights. The Canucks are
now 5-0-1 playing on Hockey Night in Canada this season.
Here's a puck, there's a puck, everywhere a puck puck - Giveaways in the 1st period: 16-1 for Toronto. Like I said via
@CanucksGame, Maple Leafs had more giveaways than a daytime talk show. Maybe even Oprah and Ellen combined.