TORONTO (AP) -The Vancouver Canucks feel like the team they want to be.
Facing the desperate Toronto Maple Leafs in the middle of a five-game road trip, there were plenty of chances to break. But the Canucks managed to hang tough and were rewarded Saturday night with a 5-3 victory.
Mason Raymond's tiebreaking goal in the third period was the difference.
``It was a little sloppy out there, but we worked hard,' said forward Ryan Kesler, who scored twice. ``We got the goals at the right time and found a way to win. That's the important thing.
``We found a way to win and that's what good teams do on the road.'
The Canucks are 4-4-1 away from Vancouver.
After getting off to a bit of a slow start, Roberto Luongo stood tall when it mattered most. He made 16 saves in the final period to give the Canucks a chance to win - something they were able to do when Raymond sneaked a soft shot from the top of the circle between Jean-Sebastien Giguere's pads at 13:36 of the third period.
``Yeah, I was (surprised it went in),' Raymond said. ``There was a few actually earlier in the game when I should've taken a shot and I didn't. That one went in. I'll take it any way I can get it.'
It will only heighten the sense of panic in Toronto. The Maple Leafs delivered their most solid performance in weeks, but still lost. They have only one victory in 12 games.
``(That's) the best third period we've played in two or three weeks,' coach Ron Wilson said. ``Then the circumstances of the winning goal weren't very good. We had an opportunity to get it deep. (Giguere) was great all night, but we needed a stop there. He would be the first to say he had to have that shot.
``We kept pushing, we had some great opportunities. I thought our young guys played really well. But when it mattered, Luongo made some big saves and denied us a point or even two.'
Daniel Sedin and Dan Hamhuis also had goals for Vancouver (10-4-2). Fredrik Sjostrom, Phil Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski scored for the Maple Leafs (5-8-3).
Sjostrom and Kessel put the Maple Leafs ahead 2-0 with goals just over three minutes apart. Sjostrom tipped a shot between Luongo's legs at 4:12 of the first period before Kessel scored his eighth of the season with a high wrist shot at 7:39.
The Canucks showed no signs of panic.
``I think that comes with the record we have and the people we have in here,' Daniel Sedin said. ``Last year we came back in a lot of games. We knew we could do it. We stuck with it and we came through.'
He soon scored a power-play goal from in close - his 10th tally of the season - before Kesler added two more to quickly make it 3-2 early in the second.
Toronto was able to get the tying goal when Grabovski beat Luongo high, but Luongo wouldn't allow another puck to get past him. Even after watching his team win for the eighth time in nine games, coach Alain Vigneault took a low-key approach.
``We're still a work in progress,' he said. ``We've got a lot of things we like, and we've got some other areas of our game that we know that we need to improve. That's why you play 82 games. You've got to get better every night.'
One bright spot for Wilson was the play of Nazem Kadri and Keith Aulie, who both looked good after getting called up by the Maple Leafs from the AHL on Friday.
The East has been a kind place for Vancouver, which improved to 5-0-1 against teams from the other conference. That has been a trend in recent years as the Canucks were 13-5 against the East last season.
``You do the math, I don't know what to tell you,' Luongo said when asked for a reason for the success. ``I can't answer that for you without being cocky.'
Notes: The Canucks scratched Keith Ballard, Peter Schaefer and Ryan Parent. ... Carl Gunnarsson and Luca Caputi were taken out of Toronto's lineup to make room for Kadri and defenseman Keith Aulie. ... Kadri played his seventh game in 11 days - each in a different city. ... Vancouver's Henrik Sedin played in his 433rd consecutive game. ... The Canucks visit Buffalo on Monday and Pittsburgh on Wednesday before returning home.
The Associated Press News Service
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