Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Ilya Mikheyev (65) collides with Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) on a breakaway during second period NHL action in Toronto on Saturday May 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Ilya Mikheyev (65) collides with Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) on a breakaway during second period NHL action in Toronto on Saturday May 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Matthews scores 37th and 38th goals of the season, Leafs down Canucks 5-1

Vancouver has now dropped five of last six games

Auston Matthews scored twice to raise his NHL-leading goal total to 38 as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Saturday for their fifth straight win.

Adam Brooks, Alex Galchenyuk and Joe Thornton, into an empty net, had the other goals for Toronto (33-13-5), while Mitch Marner added two assists. Jack Campbell stopped 26 shots for the North Division’s top team, which finished 5-3-1 against the Canucks in 2021.

Matthews’ 38 goals have come in just 47 games — he missed four with a wrist injury — and he’s found the back of the net a jaw-dropping 17 times in his last 17 contests.

The 23-year-old sniper’s second of the night was his league-best 12th game-winner, and moved him one back of Charlie Conacher’s franchise-record 13 in a season.

Tanner Pearson replied for Vancouver (19-23-3), which got 25 saves from Thatcher Demko. After beating the Leafs twice in Vancouver coming off their COVID-19 shutdown that saw 21 players and four staff members test positive, the Canucks have lost five of six — and four in a row in regulation.

Vancouver announced before the game forward Jake Virtanen has been placed on leave following “concerning allegations” of sexual misconduct. The team released a statement saying it “does not accept sexual misconduct of any kind and the claims as reported are being treated very seriously.”

The Canucks added they have “engaged external expertise” to assist in an independent investigation. Head coach Travis Green declined to answer any questions on the situation in his pre-game media availability, including if Virtanen is still with the team or when he learned of the allegations.

On the other side, Nick Foligno picked up an assist in his first game at Scotiabank Arena since coming over in a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets prior to last month’s trade deadline.

Sporting the same No. 71 his dad, Mike, wore when he played for the Leafs in the early 1990s, the veteran forward sat out his new team’s 4-1 victory over Vancouver on Thursday along with Campbell, and defencemen Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin, with an eye towards managing wear and tear ahead of the playoffs.

Tied 1-1 through 20 minutes, the Leafs took their first lead 3:50 into the second period when Marner stole the puck from Alexander Edler behind Vancouver’s net and found Matthews in front to fire home his 38th of the campaign.

The puck actually took a deflection off Edler, who was on the wrong end of a fight with Wayne Simmonds on Thursday for his knee-on-knee hit on Toronto’s Zach Hyman when the teams played in Vancouver last month, and fooled Demko.

READ MORE: Canucks place Jake Virtanen on leave following sexual misconduct allegations

Pearson had a golden opportunity to double his tally after putting Vancouver up 1-0 in the first off a Matthews turnover in front of his own net, but Campbell was there with the glove.

Toronto stretched its advantage to 3-1 at 4:55 of the third when Brooks, who continues to solidify his spot on the fourth line alongside Thornton and Jason Spezza, tipped Justin Holl’s point shot by Demko for his fourth.

Galchenyuk rounded out the scoring with his fourth at 11:39 after Demko made the initial stop on William Nylander.

Thornton then buried his fifth into an empty net with two minutes left to seal it.

The Canucks, who registered just two shots in Thursday’s opening period, had a much better start and got on the board with 6:32 left in the first when Pearson fired his 10th through a screen off Campbell’s far post on a set play following an offensive zone faceoff.

The Leafs responded just 1:56 later when Foligno and Marner combined to find Matthews in front to score his 37th on a shot that went off J.T. Miller’s stick, the post and past Demko.

Matthews had another great chance earlier in the period, but Demko was there to stop the first shot before Toronto’s star centre batted the rebound out of mid-air just wide.

Notes: Canucks centre Tyler Motte, who left Thursday’s game with an undisclosed injury, didn’t dress for the visitors. … Vancouver, which has 11 games remaining on its schedule, play the Edmonton Oilers four times between Monday and next Saturday. … Toronto plays Montreal three times next week beginning Monday before closing out its regular season with games against the Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

CanucksNHLTorontoVancouver

Just Posted

An artist’s rendering of the new emergency services building. (Photo submitted by Town of Creston)
Creston’s town council provides update on future emergency services building

Construction on the facility is expected to be complete in spring 2022

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

You can help pollinators on their quest by planting native species in your garden. (Pixabay)
E-Tips: Hello from the Creston Climate Action Society

Welcome to the first official E-Tips column

On April 27, town officials gathered at 1505 Cook Street to break ground at the site for the new emergency services building. From left to right: Councillor Arnold DeBoon, Mayor Ron Toyota, Councillor Joanna Wilson, Assistant Fire Chief Laura Dodman, Councillor Jen Comer, and Councillor Jim Elford. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Breaking ground for the new Creston Emergency Services Building

On April 27, town officials gathered at the construction site with shovels ceremoniously in hand

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Most Read