After playing what head coach Sheldon Keefe called his team's best third period of the season in rallying for a 2-1 victory at Calgary on Thursday, the Toronto Maple Leafs continue their five-game road trip on Saturday at the Vancouver Canucks.
Toronto opened the trip, which ends Tuesday at New Jersey, with a 5-1 win at Seattle on Sunday but fell at Edmonton, 5-2, in the front end of a back-to-back on Wednesday.
The Maple Leafs then fell behind, 1-0, at Calgary at 2:32 of the first period on a Blake Coleman short-handed goal but Mitch Marner tied it in the second period. Calle Jarnkrok scored the game-winner at the 2:20 mark of the third period when he tucked in a rebound at the right post after Jacob Markstrom had stopped Morgan Rielly's breakaway try.
Joseph Woll made 25 saves to pick up the win for the Maple Leafs, who extended their second-place lead in the Atlantic to five points over Tampa Bay.
"You really can't put a finger on why, but we came out in the third period really focused and committed," Keefe told the Toronto Star. "To me it was our best third period of the season. Go out, get the goal to get the lead, and then just how we defended I thought was exceptional."
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"I think that third period is a third period we want to play a lot more," Marner added. "There was control on the ice, control in the neutral zone, (we) played some good offensive hockey as well, but (we're) not giving up many the other way. So I think we're really happy with that. We're just happy with digging in there."
Toronto was one of the busiest teams in the NHL before Friday's trade deadline adding forwards Ryan O'Rielly and Noel Acciari from St. Louis and Sam Lafferty from Chicago as well as defensemen Jake McCabe (Chicago), Erik Gustafsson (Washington) and Luke Schenn (Vancouver).
The Maple Leafs made one minor deal on Friday, acquiring forward Radim Zohorna from the Flames for forward Dryden Hunt.
"Obviously, through the trade deadline, (we) made a number of transactions over the course of the last several weeks that we feel sets our team up competitively, gives us the depth we need at all positions come playoff time," Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas said. "That was the goal of the entire exercise over the last couple of weeks. ... We feel good about where we're at right now."
Rebuilding Vancouver opened a six-game homestand with a 2-1 loss to Minnesota on Thursday to fall to a dismal 11-17-1 at home this season. The Canucks were also busy heading into the trade deadline, dealing Schenn to Toronto for a third-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.
The Canucks also traded center Curtis Lazar, who had just three goals and five points in 45 games this season, to New Jersey for a fourth-round pick in 2024 on Friday just a few hours prior to the deadline.
The loss to Minnesota was the sixth in the last nine games for Vancouver (3-5-1) but coach Rick Tocchet had no complaints with his team's effort.
"I thought the guys tried tonight," Tocchet said. "We didn't have an answer for No. 97. Man, he's a hell of a player. He was the difference-maker. ... He's a world-class guy."
Ninety-seven would be Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov, who scored his 38th and 39th goals of the season.
The good news for the Canucks was that goaltender Thatcher Demko, making his second straight start after missing three months with a groin injury, made 34 saves and said he's feeling better physically.
"I tried to take a couple more steps tonight, which I thought I did," Demko said. "I still have some steps to take but I felt good. Obviously, we want to get the win and we knew it was going to be a tight, low-scoring game and it didn't go our way, but I thought we did some good things."
--Field Level Media