- Associated Press - Saturday, December 3, 2016

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - The last time Canucks goalie Ryan Miller faced the Toronto Maple Leafs, his night ended with an ejection following a wild line brawl.

The veteran goalie wrapped Saturday night’s anticipated rematch in a more familiar fashion, making 38 saves in regulation and overtime, plus two more in the shootout, while Vancouver downed Toronto 3-2.

The 36-year-old wasn’t even sure he was going to start after allowing a weak goal in Thursday’s 3-1 loss to Anaheim - a flub that killed the chance for a comeback.

Coach Willie Desjardins went back to Miller, though, and he repaid that faith with a stellar performance, especially late with the young Leafs pressing.

“Willie gave me a chance,” Miller said. “He said in front of all the guys I would be going. I needed to get my head on straight. I took the time to get refocused. I knew I had to be better.”

Markus Granlund and Bo Horvat scored in the shootout for Vancouver, backing regulation goals from Daniel Sedin and Sven Baertschi.

James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for Toronto. Frederik Andersen turned away 22 shots.

Mitch Marner scored in the shootout for Toronto, but Miller stopped Matthews and Tyler Bozak to clinch it.

“We played well. You’ve got to give Miller a lot of credit, I thought he did a nice job for them, kind of held the fort there,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. “When you play good like this, you leave satisfied.”

Down 2-1 after 40 minutes, the Leafs came out flying in the third period and tied it on Matthews’ 11th of the season after the Canucks were punished for successive icings. Zach Hyman collected a deflected point shot behind the Vancouver net and fed the 2016 No. 1 overall draft pick in front. Matthews fired a quick wrist shot past Miller for his fifth goal in the last five games at 1:56.

Matthews had a great chance to give Toronto its first lead on a power play midway through the period, but the puck hopped over his stick on one chance before Miller made a nice pad save.

Horvat later fired wide on a short-handed 2-on-1, and Andersen stopped Baertschi on another odd-man rush.

Miller then snagged Bozak’s shot from in tight with 2:22 left in regulation. Canucks defenseman Troy Stecher cleared a loose puck out the crease with just over a minute to go after Miller got a piece of Connor Brown’s shot.

Nazem Kadri had two good chances in overtime for Toronto, while Andersen reached back to deny Stecher with the glove on Vancouver’s best opportunity.

This was the first meeting since Toronto won a fight-filled 6-3 blowout at home on Nov. 5 that included ejections for Miller and Andersen. A number of Maple Leafs players, including Matt Martin, drew Vancouver’s ire following game, with Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson shouting “Matt Martin is dead!” to reporters assembled outside the lock room afterward.

Gudbranson walked back that comment this week, but he and Martin did drop the gloves during the second period Saturday in a spirited fight. Both players delivered a steady diet of right fists, delighting the energetic crowd at Rogers Arena.

“I’m an honest guy and I’ll always defend what I say. That’s what it came down to,” Gudbranson said. “We kind of both knew that it was going to go down at some point. We kind of just nodded.”

Sedin scored with 6:57 left in the first period and Baertschi made it 2-0 with a goal 2:37 into the second.

Andersen, who missed Friday’s practice due to illness after backing up Jhonas Enroth in Thursday’s 3-0 loss to Calgary, made a nice save later in the period on Loui Eriksson’s deflection to keep his team within two before the Leafs struck just 13 seconds into a power play.

Miller stopped Bozak’s one-timer from the faceoff circle, but van Riemsdyk banged home the rebound for his 11th with 8:30 left in the period.

NOTES: Vancouver’s top defense pair of Christopher Tanev (lower-body injury) and Alexander Edler (broken finger) remain on the shelf.

UP NEXT

Maple Leafs: Play six of their next seven at home starting Wednesday night against Minnesota.

Canucks: Begin a five-game trip in New Jersey on Tuesday night.


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