Vancouver Canucks’ Bo Horvat prepares to take a faceoff during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, in Vancouver on Sunday, April 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vancouver Canucks’ Bo Horvat prepares to take a faceoff during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, in Vancouver on Sunday, April 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Horvat sparks Canucks to 3-2 OT win over Leafs in return from COVID outbreak

Vancouver was playing first game since March 24

The Vancouver Canucks made a splash in their return from a COVID-19 outbreak Sunday, edging the No. 1 Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in overtime.

Captain Bo Horvat snapped in the game-winner 1:19 into the extra frame for his second goal of the game. He also registered an assist on the night.

Nils Hoglander also scored and notched a helper in regulation for the host Canucks (16-20-3), who were playing their first game since March 24.

William Nylander had a goal and an assist for the Leafs (29-12-4), while Auston Matthews added a goal in his return from a nagging wrist injury and John Tavares contributed a pair of assists.

Jack Campbell stopped 21-of-24 shots for Toronto and Vancouver got a solid 37-save performance from Braden Holtby.

The Leafs remain atop the all-Canadian North Division and hold a 4-2 edge in the season series with three games to go.

The Canucks suffered the NHL’s worst COVID-19 outbreak when the P. 1 variant of the virus swept through the team late last month.

Twenty-one players and four coaches tested positive for the virus, one other player was deemed a close contact, and another received a false positive result. Family members — including one player’s pregnant wife — also fell ill.

No Canucks players remained on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list Sunday. Nineteen were on the list at the height of the outbreak.

But some of Vancouver’s regular starters remained out of the lineup, including netminder Thatcher Demko, defenceman Nate Schmidt, and forwards Tyler Motte and Jake Virtanen.

Toronto nearly sealed the game in the dying seconds of regulation.

Matthews dished a short pass to Mitch Marner in tight and the right-winger sailed a shot off the crossbar and post with about 20 seconds left on the clock. The goal was waved off on the ice but went to a video review.

The Leafs held a 2-1 lead going into the third period but Hoglander tied it up at 12:03.

Defenceman Jalen Chatfield sliced Hoglander a crisp pass and the rookie popped it in for his eighth of the year.

Chatfield’s assist on the play was his first NHL point.

READ MORE: Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Hoglander celebrated with a big fist pump and Holtby came out of his net to join the celebratory glove taps at the Canucks’ bench.

With just under five minutes to go, it briefly appeared as though Vancouver had taken the lead when forward Jayce Hawryluk rang a shot off the crossbar. He celebrated as though the puck had gone in but it was quickly waved off by the officials and the play continued.

A nasty hit 10 minutes into the middle frame saw both sides lose a key piece.

Canucks defenceman Alex Edler took out Zach Hyman in front of the Leafs’ bench. The left-winger dropped hard to the ice and stayed down for several minutes before the play ended and a trainer came to his aide. Hyman went directly to the locker room and did not return to the game.

The Leafs’ bench vocally expressed their displeasure with the play and it was reviewed, with officials determining Edler had committed a knee-on-knee hit. He was handed a five-minute major and a game misconduct.

Holtby kept the Canucks in the game during the ensuing penalty, at one point going from post to post to make a diving glove stop on Alex Galchenyuk.

Toronto finally beat the netminder with 19 seconds left in the man advantage. Matthews collected a pass from Nylander as he powered to the net and chipped it up over Holtby’s shoulder, hitting the crossbar on the way in.

It was the star centre’s league-leading 33rd goal of the season.

The Canucks responded just 86 seconds later.

Horvat streaked into the Leafs’ zone and unleashed a blast from the right faceoff dot, slashing Toronto’s lead to 2-1 with his 15th goal of the year.

The Leafs took an early lead Sunday following a bobbled Canucks pass in the neutral zone.

The puck ricocheted off Brock Boeser’s stick and was quickly gobbled up by Tavares for an odd-man rush the other way. Tavares dishes it to Nylander, who ripped a shot past Holtby to open the scoring 3:45 into the first.

The goal was Nylander’s 14th of the season and the 100th of his NHL career. The 24-year-old right-winger returned to the lineup Sunday after missing five games due to COVID-19 protocols.

The Leafs and Canucks will meet again in Vancouver on Tuesday.

NOTES: Jimmy Vesey and Travis Boyd played their first games against Toronto since being waived by the Leafs last month. … Left-winger Tanner Pearson returned to Vancouver’s lineup after suffering a leg injury on March 17. … Before puck drop, the Canucks celebrated head equipment manager Pat O’Neill who was overseeing his 3,000th game. The team played a video with congratulatory messages from his daughters and a number of former Canucks, including Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Markus Naslund, Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure. O’Neill is the fifth trainer in league history to achieve the milestone.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

CanuckshockeyNHLTorontoVancouver

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Cowichan Valley Arts Council is offering courses in drawing May through August 2021. (Submitted)
A&E column: Art is everywhere in the Cowichan Valley

What’s going in the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

The CVRD introduces new app to contact residents during emergencies, a tool that chairman Aaron Stone says will improve communications. (File photo)
CVRD launches new app to spread information during emergencies

Cowichan Alert is a free app that can be downloaded onto smartphones, computers

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

The Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors in July 2021. (Malahat SkyWalk photo)
Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors this July

Highly anticipated attraction will take guests 250m above sea level

FILE PHOTO
Editorial: Time to roll up our sleeves and pitch in

They’re just not quite sure they want to get a vaccine — yet

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

Most Read