The Minnesota Wild may have been looking past the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center. But, they did just enough to pull off a 1-0 victory.
There is reason for that. The Maple Leafs were blown out in Winnipeg the night before. The Wild had just snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the defending Stanley Cup champs and have a home-and-home series with a division-rival coming up. The Wild and Maple Leafs play just twice a year and have very little familiarity with each other.
“We talk about that,” Devan Dubnyk said about preparing for a possible let down. “We are kind of aware of that situation. Every team in this league fully capable of giving a good game. It’s the teams that do it consistently all year are the ones that end up in the playoffs. It’s a difficult league so you’re never going to enter a game thinking that it’s going to be easy. There just aren’t any. But, it is a big challenge when you come off a win in Chicago and go up against a team that you don’t see that often.”
The Maple Leafs (8-13-5) looked more than happy to slow the game. The Wild obliged and the Maple Leafs had plenty of opportunities to score the first goal or tie the game.
They even thought they had tied the game with four minutes remaining in the third period when Peter Holland tucked a backhand into an open net next to Dubnyk. However, Mike Yeo challenged that the Maple Leafs were offside to begin with. After reviewing the play, the linesman agreed and the goal was waved off.
“We were pretty confident that it was offsides,” Zach Parise. “I think we were all yelling ‘offsides’ as soon as they crossed the blue line.”
The Wild (13-7-4) got the game’s only goal on a one-time blast by Matt Dumba at the top of the right face-off circle with the man advantage. Jared Spurgeon took a pass from Charlie Coyle at the blue line and slid a pass to Dumba. It wasn’t in the perfect spot for the one-timer, but Dumba got a lot onto it anyway.
The Wild had three power play opportunities in the game. They created one scoring opportunity — Dumba’s goal. The first unit spent more time trying to get through the neutral zone and set up the perfect play than trying to get shots on goal. The two units combined to get two shots on goal with the extra player.
No. 3 – Jared Spurgeon. The Wild defenseman recorded an assist and blocked four shots.
No. 2 – Matt Dumba. The Wild defenseman scored a goal.
No. 1 – Devan Dubnyk. The Wild goaltender stopped 28 shots.
Toronto…….…0 0 0 – 0
Minnesota……0 1 0 – 1
First Period – None. Penalties – Gardiner, TOR (interference), 20:00.
Second Period – 1, Minnesota, Dumba 3 (Spurgeon, Coyle), 9:24 (pp). Penalties – Dubnyk, MIN (roughing; served by Niederreiter), 2:58; Boyes, TOR (holding the stick), 7:33; Scandella, MIN (hit to the head), 11:12; Kadri, TOR (slashing), 14:52.
Third Period – None. Penalties – None.
Shots on goal – Toronto 8-10-10 28. Minnesota 12-5-11 28.
Goalies – Toronto, Reimer (27-28). Minnesota, Dubnyk (28-28). Referees – Ghislain Hebert, Dave Jackson. Linesmen – Brad Kovachik, Brian Murphy.