Canucks fend off Maple Leafs

Rookie Alexandre Burrows counted the first goal and assist of his NHL career as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3.

Rookie Alexandre Burrows picked the perfect time to record his first NHL points.

Burrows counted the first goal and assist of his NHL career as the Vancouver Canucks trimmed the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 before a capacity crowd of 18,630 at General Motors Place on Tuesday.

Burrows was skating in just his fifth game since being promoted from the AHL Manitoba Moose on Jan. 2.

"It's always a plus when our third and fourth lines get goals and the bottom line tonight was a big win over the Leafs," said the 25-year-old rookie from Pointe Claire, Que.

Jarkko Ruutu, Matt Cooke and Anson Carter also netted goals as the Canucks (24-14-5) held on for a third consecutive victory, but only the fourth in their past dozen contests.

Ryan Kesler added two assists in support of Alex Auld, who turned aside 35 shots.

"I thought we had some great contributions, from the bottom of our forward line up," Auld said. "To see Burrows get his first goal is great. "

"We played a pretty good game defensively," Burrows observed. "Our main goal was not to give up any goals against or any good scoring chances.

"That was our main focus, in addition to getting a good forecheck going and not turning the puck over."

With the win, Vancouver improved to 15-3-3 on home ice.

"Most nights, we've outworked the opposition and that was the key to our success tonight," Cooke said.

Chad Kilger had one goal and one assist for the Maple Leafs (24-16-3), winners in seven of their previous eight games.

The lone loss came last Friday, 1-0 at Calgary.

"We worked hard tonight," said Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin, who totalled five shots on goal.

"We certainly had a good enough effort to win the hockey game and created enough chances. Some nights it doesn't turn out the way you want."

Alexander Khavanov and rookie Alexander Steen had Toronto's other goals, but Ed Belfour conceded four goals on just 19 shots.

"Their workers won the game for them tonight," stated Maple Leafs head coach Pat Quinn, mindful that Toronto had prevailed in each of its last three visits to Vancouver.

"That's the kind of things that happen. They forced a couple of goals on us when we made what you would call poor errors in judgment and position and they were rewarded for their hard work.

"It was one of those games where we probably, on overall play, shouldn't have lost. But we did."

Toronto opened the scoring 4:41 into the first period on a short-handed, spinaround goal by Kilger, his eighth of the season.

It also marked Kilger's fourth goal in four games and came on Toronto's first shot.

Burrows answered back with his first NHL point, an assist on Ruutu's seventh at 12:48, but Khavanov pinched in from the point and lifted his third over Auld's right shoulder to put the Leafs ahead 2-1 with 2:06 left in the period.

Cooke tied it 2-2 with his seventh midway through the second period before Burrows provided Vancouver its first lead with his first NHL goal on a shot that Belfour stopped, only to have the puck sail high into the air and settle behind him in the net.

Carter was credited with the eventual winning goal, his 16th at 8:18, when Daniel Sedin's shot struck him and caromed between Belfour's pad during a power play.

Steen later slashed the deficit on a splendid effort, outmuscling Mattias Ohlund to the net and whisking a backhand shot over Auld's left shoulder for his 11th with 9:09 remaining.

with files from CP Online