TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs
can feel good about the way they enter the three-week Winter Olympics break after a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks are in a different situation, having lost seven in a row, including all five games of a trip that led to the break.
"It was a dog's breakfast of a trip -- lose them all," Canucks coach John Tortorella said.
The Maple Leafs (32-22-6) scored three goals in just under five minutes in the third period to win their seventh consecutive home game.
"We'll take what we've got right now and go into the break," Maple Leafs coach Rand Carlyle said.
Toronto won five of their past six overall, also snapping an 11-game losing streak against the Canucks.
"I think we're happy about the last month and a half or so," said Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier
, who made 32 saves. "I was just thinking about finishing on a good note. We stuck with it and we battled hard."
Left winger Mason Raymond, right winger Phil Kessel
and left winger James van Riemsdyk scored for the Maple Leafs. Center Tyler Bozak added two assists to give him 101 for his career.
Center Ryan Kesler scored for Vancouver (27-24-9).
"I thought we played two real good solid periods, especially defensively," Tortorella said. "We can't let the momentum change in that third period, the way it did. And that's details and I need to take full responsibility for that and obviously we have not taught it well enough because we continue to make the same mistakes in crucial times of the game."
The Maple Leafs' previous win over the Canucks was Nov. 24, 2003. The Canucks defeated the Maple Leafs 4-0 in the only other meeting between the teams this season, Nov. 2 at Vancouver.
Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo who earned the shutout in the first meeting between the teams, allowed three goals on 24 shots Saturday.
"The message was the break is here for you to rest and relax," Carlyle said. "But we'd be well-advised to make sure that you have some form of exercise taking place a few times during the break because when we come back we're going to go to work. I think it gives us an opportunity to get our team back together and not to drop what we've done now but to maintain some level of consistency and push for the last 22 games to get ourselves in the best possible position to qualify for the playoffs."
Canucks left winger Daniel Sedin
found reason for optimism.
"I think we realize where we are," Sedin said. "There's 22 games left. We've got to take care of business after the break. It's going to be a fresh start for everyone and I think we are starting to turn the corner in the last few games. That's a good sign. We're feeling better about ourselves. Everybody will come back from the break fresh. It's going to be a lot of fun I think. It's going to be playoff hockey."
The Maple Leafs, who had just 13 shots through the first two periods, stepped up the pressure early in the third period after they had killed off a hooking penalty to right winger David Clarkson that was assessed at the end of the second period. After only five shots on goal in the second, the Maple Leafs had four shots in the first five minutes of the third.
The pressure paid off when Raymond skated behind the net before scoring his 16th goal of the season with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle at 7:23.
The Maple Leafs took a 2-1 lead on the 31st goal of the season by Kessel on a shot from just inside the blue line at 10:03.
Van Riemsdyk, who will be Kessel's teammate on the U.S. Olympic team, scored his 24th of the season at 12:05, snapping in a 14-footer.
Kesler scored his 20th goal of the season on a quick, low wrist shot from the slot with 21.3 seconds remaining in the first period to give the Canucks the lead. Left winger Chris Higgins set up the chance with a pass from the end boards.
NOTES: Early in the second period, Maple Leafs C Jay McClement was helped from the ice after falling awkwardly into the corner to the right of the Vancouver goal. He did not return to the game because of what was referred to as an upper-body injury. ... Vancouver C Henrik Sedin (rib) did not play because of a lingering injury that will prevent him from playing for Sweden in the Olympics. ... Also out for the Canucks were D Andrew Alberts (concussion), D Christopher Tanev (hand), D Kevin Bieksa (foot), D Yannick Weber (upper body) and C Mike Santorelli (shoulder). ... D Dan Hamhuis (groin) returned for the Canucks after missing two games. ... The Maple Leafs were still without C Dave Bolland (ankle), C Trevor Smith (hand) and RW Carter Ashton (hand). ... Maple Leafs G Jonathan Bernier faced 34 shots in a 4-1 win at Tampa Bay on Thursday, the 16th time this season that he has won a game while making 30 or more saves. He has made at least 30 saves in each of his seven road victories this season. ... The Maple Leafs' 1964 Stanley Cup winning team was honored before the game.
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