The Wild had a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance tonight as they downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 1-0. After a great start, the Wild were put under fire by Babcock's Leafs, but held strong through a tight affair to take both points from the game.
The Wild were far and away the better team in the first period. The Leafs were tired after a 6-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets last night, and you could tell. James Reimer continued his strong play from this season, however, and the Wild exited the first period with a lead on the shot count 12-8, but the game was all tied up at 0-0. The Leafs finally showed signs of life in the last two minutes of the period, creating roughly half of their shots in the closing moments of the period.
Just before the whistle blew, Jake Gardiner was called for interference, and the Wild took a knee in order to have the full 2 minutes in the second period.
The Wild began the second frame with a man advantage, but were unable to get a shot through to goal. This would continue for several minutes, as the Leafs had found their legs during the break. The Leafs earned many scoring chances, but the Wild's bacon was saved by Devan Dubnyk making solid saves, and generally appearing to be steady in net.
Nazem Kadri drew a roughing penalty from Dubnyk early in the period, but the Wild's kill held strong, and the Wild were given a second chance at the man advantage when Brad Boyes held Thomas Vanek's stick.
The Powerplay appeared to be dead, when a pass found Dumba winding up for a slap shot that found it's way over James Reimer but under the bar; the pass was not great but the shot certainly was, and the Wild would start and end the scoring halfway through the period.
The rest of the period would complete the momentum shift against the Wild, as the Leafs would create a number of chances for themselves, including Morgan Reilly hitting the crossbar. Regardless, the 1-0 scoreline saw out the period.
The third period was a little more back-and-forth than the second, but the weight of chances still went to the visitors. Dubnyk made a few errors, bobbling a puck here and there, but in fairness the Wild's blue line wasn't helping much, as the Wild had trouble exiting their own zone. Multiple Wild players had chances to put the game away, but were unable to solve James Reimer for a second time.
The Leafs put the puck in the back of the net 16 minutes into the period off the stick of Peter Holland, but Mike Yeo challenged the goal for offside and won his first challenge. The Wild held strong defensively, but Koivu elected to pass instead of shoot on an empty net and the Wild could not find a second goal.
Regardless, the home team took both standings points, beginning a win streak of 2 which they will attempt to continue on Saturday at home against Colorado.
The Wild did not play particularly well after the first period, and will hope to find a complete game before heading out on a road trip after Colorado.