For Travis Inexperienced and his Vancouver Canucks, the win they gritted out on Sunday meant greater than two factors within the standings.
The Canucks suffered the NHL’s worst COVID-19 outbreak when the P. 1 variant of the virus swept by way of the crew late final month.
Twenty-one gamers and 4 coaches examined optimistic for the virus, one different participant was deemed a detailed contact, and one other acquired a false optimistic consequence. Members of the family — together with one participant’s pregnant spouse — additionally fell sick.
“This is not simply your common win in the course of the common season. It is a particular win,” Inexperienced stated after the Canucks edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in extra time.
“We have gone by way of so much right here with our group over the previous few weeks. It was a tough recreation. You are enjoying a very good hockey crew on the opposite aspect. I am happy with our group and the way we caught with it and gained tonight.”
Sunday marked the Canucks’ first recreation since March 24. The matchup was initially scheduled for Saturday however the NHL pushed Vancouver’s return again two extra days after ahead J.T. Miller spoke out final week, saying gamers felt unsafe as a result of they hadn’t had sufficient time to get well from the outbreak.
WATCH | Horvat leads Canucks to OT win over Leafs in crew’s return:
Canucks captain Bo Horvat sealed the victory 1:19 into extra time, snapping a shot previous Leafs goalie Jack Campbell. Horvat additionally had a objective and an help in regulation.
“He was phenomenal,” Inexperienced stated. “What are you going to say? Two targets and an help. You need guys to step to the plate and when your captain’s proper on the entrance of the road main the way in which, there is a cause why he is sporting a C on his jersey.”
The win was large not only for the gamers on the ice, however for his or her households and for your entire Canucks group, Horvat stated.
“I could not be prouder of our guys in that room, the way in which they manned up tonight and caught with the method and willed their method to that win,” he stated.
No Canucks gamers remained on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol listing Sunday. Nineteen have been on the listing on the top of the outbreak.
However a few of Vancouver’s common starters remained out of the lineup, together with netminder Thatcher Demko, defenceman Nate Schmidt, and forwards Tyler Motte and Jake Virtanen.
The Canucks (17-18-3) regarded shaky at instances on Sunday and the Leafs took an early lead following a bobbled go within the impartial zone.
The puck ricocheted off the stick of Vancouver right-winger Brock Boeser and was shortly wolfed up by John Tavares for an odd-man rush the opposite method. Tavares dishes it to William Nylander, who ripped a shot previous Canucks goalie Braden Holtby to open the scoring 3:45 into the primary.
The objective was Nylander’s 14th of the season and the a hundredth of his NHL profession. The 24-year-old right-winger returned to the lineup Sunday after lacking 5 video games as a result of COVID-19 protocols.
“I believe I had slightly stretch earlier than I went into quarantine the place I might have scored that a hundredth objective so it is good to get that one early,” Nylander stated.
Toronto’s Zach Hyman leaves recreation with knee harm
A stable efficiency from Holtby stored Vancouver within the recreation for a lot of the evening. Considered one of his greatest stops got here halfway by way of the second after Canucks defenceman Alex Edler was handed a five-minute main and a recreation misconduct for a knee-on-knee hit that despatched Toronto left-winger Zach Hyman to the dressing room.
Holtby glided from put up to put up to make the diving glove cease on Alex Galchenyuk.
The veteran goalie had 37 saves to safe his fifth win of the season.
“I used to be happy with him tonight, the way in which he performed,” Inexperienced stated. “To beat a crew like Toronto with how lengthy we have been out, you are going to want a efficiency out of your goalie. And he gave us an All-Star Holtby efficiency tonight.”
The victory was as a result of a “gutsy effort” from your entire group, Holtby stated.
“I believe it was one the place all of us simply determined to go on the market, you give it completely all you will have, stick collectively and we believed we have been going to have an opportunity to win,” he stated. “It was a enjoyable one to be part of.”
Leafs’ Auston Matthews scores thirty third objective
Toronto lastly beat the netminder with 19 seconds left within the five-minute man benefit. Auston Matthews collected a go from Nylander as he powered to the online and chipped it up over Holtby’s shoulder, hitting the crossbar on the way in which in.
It was the star centre’s league-leading thirty third objective of the season. Nylander and Tavares every registered an help on the play.
The Canucks responded simply 86 seconds later.
Horvat streaked into the Leafs’ zone and unleashed a blast from the appropriate faceoff dot, slashing Toronto’s result in 2-1 together with his fifteenth objective of the 12 months.
Rookie Nils Hoglander tied the sport at 2-2 12:03 into the third, taking a crisp go from defenceman Jalen Chatfield and popping it in previous Campbell.
Chatfield’s help on the play was his first NHL level.
Campbell stopped 21-of-24 photographs for Toronto on Sunday. The goalie stated he feels as if he is been in a “little bit of a stoop” recently.
“I believed we performed a very robust recreation,” he stated. “They battled exhausting. They have been clearly in a troublesome scenario and performed exhausting and I believed our guys confirmed up and performed. I felt slightly bit higher tonight and I simply want to have had a pair extra so we received the 2 factors.”
The win was an vital one for the Canucks within the standings. After greater than three weeks with out a recreation, Vancouver lingers on the backside of the North Division, 10 factors again of the Montreal Canadiens who maintain the fourth and last playoff spot.
“You’d hope that it will give them some perception,” Inexperienced stated. “However I consider additionally that the group has the assumption already. Our group is a aggressive group, they love profitable and so they’re resilient. And you’ll hope this win provides them some perception in what they’ll do.”
The win additionally evens the season collection at three video games apiece with three video games to go.
Toronto stays atop the division, 4 factors forward of the Winnipeg Jets.
The Leafs and Canucks will meet once more in Vancouver on Tuesday.
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