SPORTS

NHL: 5 stories from Thursday night

01/16/2015 01:37 EST | Updated 03/17/2015 05:59 EDT
All seven Canadian teams were in action, with plenty on the line for each as the season stretches past the halfway mark. 

Here are five stories from Thursday night:

Leafs continue to fall

The bottom line is that the Leafs journey through California produced three losses and just one goal to show for their efforts.

Although Toronto fared slightly better, falling 3-1 to the Sharks after consecutive shutout defeats to the Kings and Ducks, the 1.6 goals per game being generated since Peter Horachek took over behind the bench make the margin for error extremely small.

The Leafs were outshot 42-25 by the Sharks, which in itself isn't surprising, but goes against a trend from earlier the season when they were able to pull out wins despite that discrepancy. 

Losses have been piling up for the Leafs at a time when teams such as the Rangers, Bruins, and even the Panthers have found their groove. 

The road will not get any easier for the Leafs as they travel to St. Louis next to face a Blues' team that ranks second in the NHL with 142 goals. 

For the Leafs to have success, they will need to regain that scoring touch that still has them one spot behind St. Louis with 138. 

Sweet goal holds up as winner for Canucks

Vancouver centre Nick Bonino skated up the ice, spun around a bewildered Michael Del Zotto, then picked the corner under Ray Emery's glove.

The goal was worth way more visually than the 1-0 lead it produced on the score sheet early in the first period.  

The Canucks also benefited from strong goaltending en route to their 4-0 victory over Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Centre as Ryan Miller made 29 saves to record his fourth shutout of the season.  

Emery was chased from the Flyers' net just over a minute into the middle frame after surrendering three goals on 12 shots. 

The win halted a three-game slide for the Canucks and keeps them afloat in the Western Conference playoff picture. 

Flames get another solid outing from Ortio

Joni Ortio has now recorded two wins in as many starts for the Flames, the latest being a 4-1 victory over the Coyotes.

The 23-year-old netminder followed up his shutout on Saturday with a 27-save performance. 

Calgary struck three times in the third period to give Ortio all the support he needed. David Jones scored the decisive goal and Sean Monahan capped things off with an empty netter.

The Flames have won two in a row and sit one point behind the Kings for the second wild card spot. 

​Pavelec builds a wall for the Jets

Ondrej Pavelec was named the first star in Winnipeg's 2-1 win over Dallas and for good reason. The Jets netminder was brilliant in turning away 46 of 47 shots, which were season highs in both respects. 

His near perfect night came to an end with just over a minute let in the game on a goal by Trevor Daley that cut the lead in half. 

Michael Frolik and Evander Kane provided the offence for the Jets on a night when the team could only muster up 22 shots.

Winnipeg maintains its hold on the first wild card spot and would face Anaheim if the playoffs started today.

Elsewhere...

Ondrej Palat rallied the Lightning to a 3-2 victory over the Oilers with two third-period goals, while the Senators cruised past the Canadiens 4-1.

The loss snapped Montreal's streak of six consecutive wins on the road, however Max Pacioretty tallied the team's lone marker and has now registered at least one goal in each of his last six contests. 

Pacioretty's 21 goals in 2014-15 are good for seventh best in the league. Montreal and Detroit each have 57 points and trail the Lightning by three points in the Atlantic Division. 

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