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Originally published February 8, 2014 at 8:26 PM | Page modified February 8, 2014 at 9:29 PM

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Vancouver Canucks lose in Toronto

Phil Kessel had the winning goal as Toronto rallied to beat visiting Vancouver 3-1.

The Associated Press


TORONTO – Phil Kessel had the winning goal after nearly fighting a familiar foe.

Kessel scored the second of three straight goals for Toronto in the third period and the Maple Leafs rallied to beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Saturday night.

The U.S. Olympian assisted on the Maple Leafs’ third goal and almost had his first Gordie Howe hat trick — a goal, an assist and a fight — when he and pesky Alexandre Burrows scuffled and just about dropped the gloves late in the second period. Kessel and Burrows did fight Nov. 2 in Vancouver.

The two each got roughing minors this time, with Burrows getting an additional minor for high-sticking.

Toronto had lost 11 in a row to Vancouver since a 2003 victory over the Canucks.

Vancouver lost its seventh straight game and 16th in its past 20. Because of the league’s break for the Olympics, the Canucks don’t play again until they host St. Louis on Feb. 26.

“We’ve dug ourselves a pretty big hole here, but we need to look at it as a challenge when we get back,” Canucks coach John Tortorella said. “I do believe we’ll be healthier to fight our way through it. We’re not dead and gone. We’ve allowed a lot of teams to get back in and pass us, as far the playoffs are concerned. But we still have enough games to crawl back in.”

Tortorella is taking blame for the team’s woes.

“It’s pretty obvious that the coaching staff here has not done a good enough job teaching details of situational play,” he was quoted as saying in The Vancouver Sun. “Third period, wall play, underneath the puck — we just have not done a good enough job (as coaches) because our guys are just not consistent enough.”

Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler scored his 20th goal of the season and goaltender Roberto Luongo made 21 saves.

The victory was Toronto’s 11th in the past 14 games and its seventh straight at home.

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