Instant Reaction: Garland and Höglander score twice as Canucks beat Leafs 6-4

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
4 months ago
Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series here at CanucksArmy where we give you our instant reaction to tonight’s game and ask our readers to do the same in the comments section below
One “issue” — if it can even be called that with the Canucks going 7-1-1 over their last nine games — has been the lack of scoring from the Canucks’ fourth and second line. The fourth line has had their moments, though, and tonight’s game opened with another one of those moments.
Out with Filip Hronek and Quinn Hughes, the fourth line outworked the Leafs to be first on pucks and extend the Canucks’ offensive zone possession. Nils Höglander was instrumental in that, with the highlight of his shift (to that point) being when he swiped the puck away from Martin Jones, who failed to cover the puck. This allowed the Canucks to extend their Höglander was rewarded for his efforts almost immediately:
The next time Höglander was on the ice, it was a similar story:
That’s a career-high 14 goals, and Höglander’s second two-goal game of the season. Less than eight minutes into this game, the Canucks were up by two and had yet to concede a shot to the Leafs.
The Canucks killed off a Nikita Zadorov penalty and kept the ever-dangerous Leafs power play at bay. Back at five on five, the Canucks’ third line got to work, with Conor Garland capping off yet another shift where the Canucks simply outworked the Leafs.
At this point, it was 3-0 Canucks, but the Leafs came out looking like a different team in the second period.
First, it was William Nylander who cut the Canucks’ lead down to two:
Then, it was Jake McCabe making it 3-2:
Tying things up was Nylander:
And just like that, in less than ten minutes, the Canucks’ 3-0 lead was completely gone.
With his team being heavily outshot in the period, Rick Tocchet called a timeout. As the game headed off for a TV timeout with under five minutes to go, Quinn Hughes showed some rare emotion:
When a team sees their typically reserved leads-by-example captain, who is also the best defenceman in the NHL, breaking his stick on the bench, you better believe that’s going to invigorate them.
It certainly seemed to have that effect on the Canucks. I don’t know that for sure, but it’s a hell of a story, isn’t it?
Conor Garland put the Canucks back in front after a solid individual effort following a sharp keep at the line from Quinn Hughes:
The Canucks are 27-0-1 when leading after 40 minutes, and this was perhaps going to be their toughest task yet.
After not playing a single shift in the third period as the Canucks looked to hang onto a one-goal lead, Andrei Kuzmenko had one of his best shifts of the season. First, he moved in and set up Pius Suter for a prime scoring opportunity. Kuzmenko got the puck back and drew a tripping penalty to give the Canucks a power play opportunity.
Then the worst possible outcome happened, as Mitch Marner stole the puck from Brock Boeser and made no mistake on his breakaway opportunity against Thatcher Demko to tie this one up. Elias Pettersson probably shouldn’t have made this pass:
The Canucks got another power play opportunity after Max Domi cross-checked Brock Boeser. This time, they were likely just hoping to keep the puck out of their own net. But not Quinn Hughes. The Canucks captain made a beautiful shot pass off the skate of JT Miller to give his club another lead to try to hang onto.
After another cross-checking penalty called against Toronto, the Canucks’ power play got a prime chance to extend their lead, and they did just that:
A Filip Hronek high-sticking penalty allowed the Leafs a chance to get back into it, but the Canucks’ PKers continued their strong night. There was even a solid shorthanded opportunity for EP40, who looked off Ilya Mikheyev and rifled his shot off the post behind Martin Jones.
When you live by the cross-checking penalty, you can be at risk of dying by the cross-checking penalty as well. With just over a minute to go in the third, the Leafs went to six on four with their net empty after Quinn Hughes was called for cross-checking Leafs captain John Tavares.
As the Leafs’ shot tally rose above 40, Thatcher Demko stood tall in goal for the Canucks, who converted on six of their 21 shots against Martin Jones tonight. Tyler Myers went full chaos mode during the Leafs man advantage:
This left the Canucks down to three men against the Leafs’ six for less than 30 seconds, and some key stops from Demko locked this one down. 6-4 Canucks final.
Tonight, the Canucks’ bottom six won their matchups on a night when the top six struggled. That was the number one question regarding the Lotto Line: How long could it really last if they were the ones doing almost all of the scoring? But tonight, with Garland and Höglander scoring two each, the Canucks’ top guns were able to make their impact on the man advantage, as opposed to at 5v5.
And when we say top guns, we of course aren’t including Quinn Hughes in that. He was dynamite in every situation, and with three points on the night and the Eastern media watching, he may have locked down the Norris Trophy tonight.
Here’s a fun stat:
What’s your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments section below!

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