Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) stops Toronto Maple Leafs right wing William Nylander (88) during second period NHL hockey action in Toronto, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) stops Toronto Maple Leafs right wing William Nylander (88) during second period NHL hockey action in Toronto, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Rare goal from Marincin lifts Leafs to 4-2 win over Canucks

Toronto defender nets first of the year against Vancouver

TORONTO — Defenceman Martin Marincin scored a rare goal to put the Maple Leafs ahead in the third period, and Toronto held on to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 on Saturday.

Marincin, who entered the night with four career goals in 223 games, potted his first of the season and only his second since 2016-17 to help Toronto go up five points on the Florida Panthers for third in the Atlantic Division.

Frederik Gauthier, Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman also scored for the Maple Leafs (35-23-8).

Tyler Motte and Tanner Pearson scored for the Canucks (34-24-6), who entered six points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific.

Both goalies had rough starts by combining to allow four goals on seven shots in the first 10 minutes of the game before settling in.

Frederik Andersen made his seventh straight start for Toronto and stopped 25 shots. Vancouver’s Thatcher Demko, in net for an injured Jacob Markstrom, finished with 26 saves.

Matthews sits second behind Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak (47) in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer after producing his 45th of the campaign.

Gauthier opened the scoring less than three minutes into the game on Toronto’s first shot, taking a pass from Rasmus Sandin and snapping it blocker side on Demko from the top of the right face-off circle.

Motte responded for Vancouver at 5:28 after a strong forecheck. Linemate Jay Beagle won a puck battle behind the net and put a pass out front to Brandon Sutter, who slid the puck over to Motte at the side of an open net for an easy tap in.

Matthews restored the lead for the Leafs only 57 seconds later when he cruised down the left wing and snapped it five-hole on Demko from a bad angle.

Pearson drew the Canucks even again with 8:58 to go in the first, putting home a rebound from the side of the crease.

Both goalies put their poor starts behind them and went into the first intermission tied 2-2.

William Nylander had the best scoring chance of the second period when he got a step on Quinn Hughes for a half break before the rookie defenceman forced him to lose control of the puck and slide into the post.

READ MORE: Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

The second ended the same way the first did with the score 2-2.

Marincin scored the go-ahead goal only 18 seconds into the third when he grabbed his own rebound off the end boards and beat Demko glove side.

Kasperi Kapanen nearly put the game away for the Leafs with just over eight minutes to go, but Demko went post to post to rob him with his left pad and keep it a one-goal game.

Andersen made his biggest stop of the night with 4:50 to go in the game when he got a pad down on J.T. Miller off a rebound.

Hyman followed soon after with an empty netter to seal the win.

Notes: Missing Canucks skaters were Jordie Benn (healthy), Zack MacEwen (healthy), Micheal Ferland (concussion), Josh Leivo (knee), Tyler Graovac (lower-body), Brock Boeser (rib), Jacob Markstrom (lower-body)… Leafs scratches were Timothy Liljegren (healthy), Ilya Mikheyev (wrist laceration), Morgan Rielly (fractured foot), Cody Ceci (ankle), Andreas Johnsson (meniscus), Jake Muzzin (broken hand).

Kyle Cicerella, The Canadian Press

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