Matthews, Bozak spark rally in Leafs win

The Maple Leafs entered Saturdays’ third period versus the Canucks down by a goal, and holding a record of 1-14-1 when trailing after forty minutes.

Unfettered, even after surrendering a 5-on-3 tally to widen the deficit, Toronto showed resilience in staging a rally to force overtime and a subsequent 3-2 shootout win.

“I thought we had a pretty bad first half of the game,” Tyler Bozak said. “I thought they kind of took it to us. They played pretty well then, we kind of turned it on a bit I think our power play probably should have had a couple of goals, which was unfortunate, but it’s nice to be able to come back like that and get the two points.”

Indeed Bozak, Leo Komarov and Nazem Kadri all appeared to be snake-bitten over the first period, generating – but failing to capitalize on – several prime scoring opportunities.

Vancouver’s star rookie Brock Boeser had opened the scoring with a nifty give-and-go with Thomas Vanek, initiated when Boeser used deft hand-eye coordination to bat the puck out of mid-air. Morgan Rielly appeared to even the score later in the first period on a floater from the boards that Jacob Markstrom mishandled. But Vancouver successfully challenged for offside, nullifying the goal.

The Leafs got behind the 8-ball in the final frame when penalties were assessed to Matt Martin and Roman Polak. On the ensuing two-man power play, Sam Gagner put Vancouver ahead by a pair with his seventh goal of the season.

Toronto finally got on the scoreboard after Auston Matthews converted a feather pass from Zach Hyman on a 2-on-1 for his team-leading 19th goal of the season. Four minutes later, the Leafs got the equalizer, catching the Canucks on a line change. Morgan Rielly found Bozak in an open area in the Vancouver zone, and the latter was stopped on a partial breakaway, but scored on his own rebound for the tying marker.

The Cancuks’ Boeser appeared to win the game at the 45-second mark of overtime, however video review confirmed that his shot hit the crossbar without breaking the plane of the goal line. Minutes later, Boeser was assessed a slashing penalty but the Leafs couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage.

Matthews and Bozak both scored in the shootout to help seal the win, and Frederik Andersen made 34 saves.

Travis Dermott made his NHL debut, logging 12:03 of ice time in a solid performance that included an assist on Bozak’s goal.

“It was awesome, experience of a lifetime,” Dermott said. “First period I felt like I was pretty shaky but that’s probably to be expected. Felt like I went out and made the most of it.”