TORONTO (AP) - The Toronto Maple Leafs won their third straight and handed the Vancouver Canucks their third straight loss.
However, the game will mostly be remembered for a third period that spun out of control.
Tyler Bozak had two goals and an assist, Nazem Kadri, Mitch Marner, Nikita Soshnikov and Jake Gardiner also scored as Toronto beat Vancouver 6-3 Saturday night. Frederik Andersen stopped 23 of 26 shots before being replaced by Jhonas Enroth, who had three saves in his 5:08.
The last 14 minutes saw eight fighting majors and seven game misconducts.
“We as a team we just wanted to close out a win,” Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly said. “That’s all we’re thinking about. We’re not going out there trying to do anything to cause it, we’re just playing our game and trying to win a hockey game.”
Kadri was kicked out for charging, Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller fought Maple Leafs tough guy Matt Martin, and a Canucks player was overheard by multiple reporters threatening an opposing player.
It all started when Rielly caught Canucks forward Jannik Hansen with an apparent blind-side hit six-plus minutes into the final period. Trailing 5-2 at that point, the Vancouver bench erupted when there was no penalty called. Their fire bubbled higher that same shift when Kadri drilled Daniel Sedin with a left shoulder to the head area just as Sedin was scoring the Canucks’ third goal.
Sedin said he was fine afterward, but described the collision as an obvious foul.
Kadri, who scored the game’s first goal, was immediately charged by Hansen (dealt an instigator penalty), the two briefly dropping the gloves as the intensity ratcheted up a few notches. Considered a repeat offender by the league, Kadri will likely face suspension for the hit.
“Obviously it was a bad hit,” Miller said. “They kind of set the table and what do you expect when you make that kind of a play? We’re going to have to answer somehow.”
Vancouver sought that retribution with Derek Dorsett grabbing Leo Komarov for an unwanted fight off a faceoff. Dorsett howled at the Leafs and their bench afterward, restrained by an official as he made his way to the dressing room.
It was only the third career NHL fight for Komarov.
“As you saw it’s probably not my thing,” he said.
Another fight followed seven seconds later with Rielly seeking payback for an apparent spear to the mid-section from Canucks winger Alex Burrows. Burrows was likely looking for payback himself for Rielly’s hit on Hansen.
Unhappy with the attempts on Komarov and Rielly, Martin got involved with just over five minutes remaining in regulation. Prior to the period, Leafs coach Mike Babcock told him the following: ‘Marty, make sure there’s no trouble, just finish the game off.’”
Trouble there was, though.
Racing against rookie defenseman Troy Stecher for control of a puck in the Canucks’ zone, Martin proceeded to throw Stecher to the ice and level the 22-year-old with a few shots. That was enough for Miller, who strode quickly from his crease and jumped the Leafs’ 6-foot-3, 220-pound winger.
He was soon joined by teammates, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen eventually racing in to join the melee.
“No, I’m not going to let that kid be baptized in this league by Martin,” said Miller, who also once fought former Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier in a preseason game. “I think (Martin) was a little bit predatory on that one.”
Babcock said he hadn’t seen “rodeo stuff” of that kind since he coached in the Western Hockey League.
“It’s hockey. You fight sometimes,” Komarov said.
The fireworks didn’t stop even after the final whistle. Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson was overheard by reporters stating, “Matt Martin’s dead” as he walked into the Vancouver dressing room at Air Canada Centre.
“I don’t care too much about that,” Martin said when informed of the comments. “The game will be played the next time we play them. It will run its course, I’m sure.
“You don’t like seeing your guys getting jumped like that, either, so it worked out the way it did,” he added.
The teams next meet Dec. 3 in Vancouver.
Shut out in their previous two games and in four of the past five outings, the Canucks managed to end their goal drought, albeit falling to 0-7-1 while getting shut out four times since beating Buffalo on Oct. 20.
“It’s kind of getting towards rock bottom here, but maybe getting nice and pissed off is good for this club right now,” Miller said.
Dorsett, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin scored for the Canucks, and Miller finished with 36 saves.
Babcock summed up the victory simply: “We got excited. They got excited. We got excited. We won.”
The opening period was all Toronto. The Leafs fired 14 consecutive shots over a span of about 14 minutes and scored the game’s first two goals.
Kadri opened the scoring with his sixth of the season and third in the last three games with 7:40 left in the period. Bozak upped the lead to 2-0 about four minutes later on the 14th straight on goal for Toronto.
Dorsett brought the Canucks within one 26 seconds later though, ending Vancouver’s lengthy shutout spell (almost 160 minutes).
Bozak added his second of the game on a power play late in the second to make it 3-1. It was Bozak’s 15th career multi-goal game and the seventh for a Leafs player this season.
Vancouver again got one back quickly, this time just 1:20 later as Henrik Sedin beat Andersen with the first goal for the captain since Oct. 23.
Marner scored on a feed from Bozak less than five minutes into the third with his fourth of the season.
The action turned nasty after Soshnikov scored his first of the season to make it 5-2.
NOTES: Matthews was pointless in five straight games heading into the evening. He hit a pair of posts, later ending his point drought with a third-period assist.
Canucks: At the New York Islanders on Monday night in the fourth game of a six-game trip.
Maple Leafs: Host Los Angeles on Tuesday night in the middle game of a three-game homestand.
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