Preview: Canucks at Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs answered their third five-game winning streak of the season with back-to-back losses to begin a four-game homestand. The Maple Leafs attempt to put forth a better performance at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday when they host the Vancouver Canucks, who are expected to be without rookie sensation Elias Pettersson.
"There's things we've got to learn to do better and learn quick. It's coming down to the stretch now and this is when everyone starts grinding and playing that lockdown game," Toronto forward Mitch Marner said after he tallied twice in Thursday afternoon's 4-3 setback to Minnesota for his third multi-goal and 18th multi-point performance of the season. Although the 21-year-old Marner leads the team with 40 assists, John Tavares set up a pair of goals versus the Wild to account for his sixth multi-point effort in his last seven outings. Vancouver was shut out for the second time in three contests on its six-game road trip, but the potential bigger blow was seeing Pettersson exit Thursday's 2-0 setback to Montreal with a knee injury. "He's staying with the team," Canucks coach Travis Green of the team's All-Star representative and leader in goals (22), assists (20) and points (42). "I expect he won't play Saturday but I don't expect that he's going to be (out) that long."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet West, Sportsnet Pacific (Vancouver), CBC, Sportsnet Ontario (Toronto)
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (20-20-4): Vancouver recalled prized prospect Thatcher Demko (8-5-1, 2.58 goals-against average and .911 save percentage) from Utica of the American Hockey League on Friday after fellow goaltender Mike McKenna was claimed by Philadelphia on waivers. The move also comes on the heels of the Canucks sending netminder Anders Nilsson and forward Darren Archibald to Ottawa for McKenna, forward Tom Pyatt and the Senators' sixth-round selection in the 2019 NHL Draft. "One of the things that we wanted to do was make room for Thatcher and get him going," general manager Jim Benning said of the 23-year-old. "We've been patient with him, with his development. He's playing really well down there (with the Comets). ... We just felt that the foundation for his game is set, now is time for him to move up."
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (26-12-2): Speaking of goaltenders, newly acquired Michael Hutchinson will follow his 30-save performance against Minnesota with a second consecutive start as Frederik Andersen plans to miss his fifth straight game with a groin injury. "It's getting close," the 29-year-old Andersen said. "It's been a good progression over the last few days and obviously going through a full practice pretty much today, I'm feeling pretty good so definitely positive about it." Fellow netminder Garret Sparks missed the session as the team confirmed the diagnosis for a concussion, while forward Zach Hyman was back at practice on Friday after missing six straight contests with an ankle injury.
1. Vancouver G Jacob Markstrom has yielded three goals or fewer in each of his last 11 outings (9-2-0).
2. Toronto D Morgan Rielly has been held off the scoresheet in each of the last three contests after recording 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in his previous 12.
3. Canucks C Bo Horvat has scored 12 of his 17 goals on the road.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 4, Canucks 3