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Demitra collects three assists in first game back as Canucks beat Leafs

The Canadian Press
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Toronto Maple Leafs\' goalie Vesa Toskala, left, of Finland, looks on as Vancouver Canucks\' Willie Mitchell, left to right, Steve Bernier, Kyle Wellwood and Shane O\'Brien celebrate after Wellwood scored the team\'s first goal during first period NHL action in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday November 15, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck Author: The Hockey News

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Demitra collects three assists in first game back as Canucks beat Leafs

The Canadian Press
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VANCOUVER, B.C. - The irony wasn't lost on Pavol Demitra.

When a rib injury sidelined Demitra for 10 games it gave Kyle Wellwood another chance to earn a spot with the Vancouver Canucks.

Demitra marked his return to the lineup with three assists, one on a goal by Wellwood against his old team, as the Canucks beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 in NHL play Saturday.

Wellwood deflected a Demitra pass past Leaf goaltender Vesa Toskala early in the first period. The goal came on the Canuck's first shot of the game and with the Leafs outshooting Vancouver 10-0.

"Playing with a guy like that, he's a very skilled guy," said Demitra. "He's very smart on the ice and he can read. He's got unbelievable patience and has a great touch.

"It was very easy to play with him and we're hoping to score many more goals."

Wellwood, who the Leafs put on waivers this summer, admitted the goal brought great satisfaction.

"That was definitely a nice goal to get," said the Windsor, Ont., native who leads the Canucks with seven goals in 11 games. "This is a game I was trying to get the guys hyped up for in the dressing room. It was a really good team effort on our part."

Wellwood, who came to camp out of shape, played one game for the Canucks before being sent to the minors. He was recalled after the injury to Demitra and has made the most of his opportunity.

Demitra also assisted on Ryan Kesler's power-play goal in the first period and Daniel Sedin's goal in the second.

Kesler said having Demitra back gives the Canucks more firepower.

"It makes our offence a lot more dynamic, more spread out," said Kesler. "We have four lines going now."

Defenceman Willie Mitchell, with his first of the season, also scored for the Canucks, who improved their Northwest Division record to 10-6-1.

Ian White and Matt Stajan, on the power-play, scored in the third period for the Leafs, who saw their Northeast Division record drop to 7-7-4.

The Leafs, playing their first game in Vancouver since Jan. 10, 2006, outshot Vancouver 30-15.

Toronto defenceman Jeff Finger said the game turned in the first period when the Leafs had a two-man advantage but couldn't score on goaltender Roberto Luongo.

"Luongo played a really good game," said Finger. "That five-on-three, he held them in there.

"That swung the momentum and we weren't able to dig out of the hole."

During the power play Luongo got a right pad on a blast from the point from Pavel Kubina, then stopped Tomas Kaberle in close.

He also was forced to play without his stick after losing it during a goal-mouth scramble. That brought chants of "Loooo, Loooo" from the sellout crowd of 18,630.

"That's my job, stopping the puck," said the Canuck captain, who saw his franchise-record shutout streak of 242 minutes, 36 seconds end during a loss to Colorado Wednesday. "I was trying to stay as patient as I could."

Niklas Hagman had two of Toronto's best scoring chances. He rang a shot off the post in the second period, then forced Luongo to make a glove save in the third period.

Toronto finished a three-game swing through Western Canada with two losses and a win. Vancouver wrapped up a six-game home stand with a 4-1-1 record and now begins a four-game road trip.

"I don't think we played our best game by any means today," said Luongo. "We got the two points, that's what it's all about.

"We go on the road now and games are going to get tougher. We have to make sure we play for 60 minutes."

It was a spirited match with several fights. One of the hardest hits of the night game when Toronto teammates Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin crashed into each other during third-period power play.

Vancouver was outshot 13-6 in the first period but still managed a 2-0 lead. The Canucks scored two goals on three shots in the second, ending Toskala's night.

He was replaced by Curtis Joseph who stopped all six shots he faced.

The Canucks wore their new third sweater for the game. The blue, green and white jerseys feature a stylized hockey stick on the front along Johnny Canuck and Vancouver Millionaire logos on the shoulder. Vancouver plans to wear the sweater about 15 times during the season.

Notes: Members of the gold-medal winning men's eight rowing team were introduced during the first period. ... Out of the Canuck lineup was defencemen Kevin Bieksa (fractured left foot) and Alex Edler (sick) ...The Canucks head out on a four-game road trip against the New York Islanders, Rangers, Minnesota and Pittsburgh.

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Demitra collects three assists in first game back as Canucks beat Leafs