Canucks top Leafs 3-2 in OT in return from COVID layoff

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Bo Harvat scored his second goal of the game 1:19 into overtime, giving the Vancouver Canucks a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night in their return from a nearly four-week layoff because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Horvat also had an assist, Nils Hoglander had a goal and an assist, and Braden Holtby made 37 saves as the Canucks played their first game since March 24. At least 21 players and four members of the coaching staff tested positive for the coronavirus and Vancouver had 11 games postponed since the outbreak hit late last month.

No Canucks players remained on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list Sunday, but some of Vancouver’s regular starters remained out of the lineup, including goalie Thatcher Demko, defenseman Nate Schmidt and forwards Tyler Motte and Jake Virtanen.

William Nylander had a goal and an assist for Toronto in his first game after missing five due to COVID-19 protocols. Auston Matthews added his league-leading 33rd goal in his return from a nagging wrist injury and John Tavares added a pair of assists. Jack Campbell stopped 21 shots as the Maple Leafs remained atop the all-Canadian North Division and hold a 4-2 edge in the season series with three games to go.

The teams play again in Vancouver on Tuesday night.

Toronto nearly sealed the game in the final seconds of regulation. Matthews sent a short pass to Mitch Marner in tight and the right wing sailed a shot off the crossbar and post with about 20 seconds left. The goal was waved off on the ice, but went to a video review — which confirmed there was no score on the play.

Hoglander tied it for Vancouver at 12:03 of the third when he took a crisp pass from Jalen Chatfield and scored his eighth goal of the season. Chatfield’s assist was his first NHL point.

With just under five minutes to go, it briefly appeared as though Vancouver had taken the lead when 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 second period saw both sides lose a key player when Vancouver’s Alex Edler took out Zach Hyman in front of the Maple Leafs’ bench. Hyman dropped hard to the ice and stayed down for several minutes before the play ended and a trainer came to his side. Hyman went directly to the locker room and did not return.

The Leafs’ bench was angry with the play and it was reviewed, with officials determining Edler had committed a knee-on-knee hit. He was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct — and Toronto took advantage.

Matthews scored with 19 seconds left in the man advantage, taking a pass from Nylander, powering to the net and chipping it up over Holtby’s shoulder, with the puck hitting the crossbar on the way in and giving Toronto a 2-0 lead.

The Canucks responded just 86 seconds later when Horvat streaked into the Maple Leafs zone and scored his 15th of the season.

Nylander ripped a shot past Holtby to open the scoring 3:45 into the first to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.

NOTES

Jimmy Vesey and Travis Boyd played their first games against Toronto since being waived by the Maple Leafs last month. … Vancouver LW Tanner Pearson returned to the lineup for the first time since injuring a leg on March 17.

MILESTONE

The Canucks celebrated head equipment manager Pat O’Neill, who was working his 3,000th game. The team played a video with congratulatory messages from his daughters and a number of former Canucks players, 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.

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