VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CP) – Scoring his first NHL goal was a thrill for rookie Alexandre Burrows, who played in the ECHL with Baton Rouge, Greenville and Columbia and had an assist in the 2004 ECHL All-Star Game.
Scoring it against the Toronto Maple Leafs made it even sweeter. Burrows, playing in just his fifth NHL game, had a goal and an assist while goaltender Alex Auld, who played in the ECHL for Columbia, made 35 saves as the Vancouver Canucks ground out a nail-biting 4-3 win over the Leafs Tuesday night. “Growing up I was a Montreal Canadiens fan,” said Burrows, who the Canucks called up Jan. 2 from their AHL Manitoba Moose farm team.
“It was a big rivalry against the Leafs.”
It wasn’t a night for finesse as the grinders took centre stage for the Canucks. Instead of ballroom dancing it was a mosh pit, which gave a fourth-liner like Burrows a chance to shine.
Burrows’ linemate Ryan Kesler also had two assists, his first points in 11 games.
“We just wanted to get a good forecheck, get pressure on their defencemen and some good hits,” said Burrows, who also assisted on Jarkko Ruutu’s first-period goal.
“Every time you get a goal it’s a plus. We’re really happy we contributed tonight.”
Hardnosed Matt Cooke and Anson Carter, on a third-period power play, also scored for the Canucks.
The win was Vancouver’s third in a row and moved the Canucks to just two points back of Calgary for first place in the Northwest Division.
Auld, who faced 30 shots over the last two periods, liked the work effort he saw in front of him.
“I thought we had some great contributions from the bottom of our forward line up,” said Auld, who was named the game’s first star.
“To see Burrows get his first goal is great.”
After looking shaky in the first period Auld was like a rock for the rest of the game as the Leafs came at him in waves.
“I saw a lot of pucks,” said Auld, who twice made pad saves on Mats Sundin and blocked Tie Domi who had been left alone on his doorstep.
“That was the key. The guys did a great job of clearing bodies out from in front of me and there weren’t too many rebound chances.”