SPORTS

NHL: Leafs, Canucks share spotlight on Sunday night

12/29/2014 12:20 EST | Updated 02/27/2015 05:59 EST
The second day back from the holiday break was not nearly as busy as the first with just four teams in action compared to the 26 on Saturday.

However, the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs were at the forefront of the action on Sunday.

Here are some takeaways from their efforts on the ice.

Canucks stand tall against league's top team

Although they managed to fire a season-low 14 shots, Vancouver salvaged a point in a 2-1 overtime loss to Anaheim, leaders of the Pacific Division and the NHL with 54 points. 

Yannick Weber opened the scoring early in the first period, while Francois Beauchemin's first goal of the season pulled Anaheim even midway through the middle frame. 

Cam Fowler then delivered the winner in what was a wild extra period full of chances for both teams. 

 

Ryan Miller did his best to keep the Canucks in the game as he turned away 29 of 31 shots. 

Just prior to Fowler's goal, Daniel Sedin had a point-blank opportunity to reward Miller for his efforts, but he over-skated the puck on a breakaway and had the puck bounce over his stick before he could attempt a shot. 

That mishap and the Canucks overall failure to get pucks at the net drew the ire of some fans.

Weber, on the other hand, had a more positive outlook on the outcome.

Leafs give Panthers hope in playoff picture

The Panthers stormed back with four goals in the third period to down the Leafs 6-4 in Florida in an outcome that went against the statistical grain.

Prior to the game, the Leafs were sporting a 14-0-0 record this season when leading after 40 minutes. Based on that unblemished record, it seemed like victory would be a sure thing for the Toronto side as they held a 4-2 advantage heading into the final frame. 

However, Dmitry Kulikov began an offensive onslaught in the third period that would bring that streak to and end.  

Willie Mitchell pulled things even with just his second marker of the campaign. Then, with Florida on a power play, Brad Boyes provided the decisive goal late in the third when he tipped in a shot from the point. 

Scottie Upshall added an empty-netter to put the game out of reach.

Despite an overall record of 20-13-3 the Leafs are still clinging to the first wild card spot with 43 points, but just barely. The Washington Capitals, who are currently the second wild card team, trail the Leafs by a single point, while the Panthers (40 points) and Bruins (39) are also making some noise.

In particular, Florida has been gaining attention and climbing the Atlantic Division standings with seven wins in their last 11 games. Along the way, they have managed to overtake Boston for fifth place, with Toronto being the next target. 

Meanwhile, the Leafs will have to shift their focus to a team in front of them when they play the division leading Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. 

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