Lucas Viveiros | Report
The Toronto Maple Leafs fell to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday afternoon during their special ‘Next Gen Game’ by a final score of 4-3.
The matchup started with loads of uncertainty for the Buds, as the team was forced to start their third goaltender on their depth chart due to injuries to both Freddy Andersen (groin) and Garret Sparks (concussion).
That goaltender was Barrie, Ontario native Michael Hutchinson, who is best known for his longest NHL stretch as a member of the Winnipeg Jets from the 2013-2014 season until the 2017-2018 campaign. Hutchinson also spent time with the Florida Panthers earlier this season, boasting a 1-1-2 record for the club with a .839 save percentage and a 4.18 goals against average.
Fortunately for Hutchinson his club would give him the lead extremely early, as right off the opening face off Mitch Marner danced into the Wild end and rifled a backhand upstairs and over the glove of Dubnyk to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead.
The Leafs would score another beauty with point leader Mitch Marner leading the offensive push, and playing a nice give and go with Tavares before burying one upstairs to give the Maple Leafs the two goal advantage.
Shortly following the second Marner goal, Michael Hutchinson was required to make his first huge stop, turning away a slot shot from Luke Kunin to preserve the two goal cushion.
But it wouldn’t be long before the Wild’s enormous pressure paid off, as on a Ron Hainsey turnover Charlie Coyle was able to pick up the puck and roof a backhand above the glove of Hutchinson to cut the lead in half before the end of the first.
After a few massive stops by Hutchinson in the second, Mikko Koivu would slam one home that came loose in the slot to even the contest at two’s.
Then one of the most relieving moments of the season took place for Leaf fans, as after a quick back and forth with Matthews, William Nylander would circle around the Wild net and beat Dubnyk from a sharp angle to score his first goal of the season.
The tally came in Nylander’s 12th game of the season and appeared to give the Leafs some momentum to carry out the victory.
Unfortunately for Toronto however, Jared Spurgeon would leak one through Hutchinson just over a minute after the Nylander go ahead goal, resulting in a 3-3 tie heading into the final frame.
With one shot in the third, Minnesota’s alternate captain, Zach Parise was able to crush the hopes of the 20,000 plus in attendance for this matinee game, coming off of a brutal turnover from Auston Matthews. On the goal, Charlie Coyle would cut off the blind pass from Matthews and feed Parise to his left who made no mistake by beating Hutchinson upstairs.
The Wild would preserve the lead and hang on to win the game by a 4-3 final score.
Revisit the game’s highlights below.
Next on the schedule, the Maple Leafs will welcome a fellow Canadian squad in the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm from Scotiabank Arena, and can be seen on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.
More news from the ice
- The ‘Next Gen Game’ was designed to celebrate the game of hockey and the impact it has on the next generation of youth
- After the loss, the Maple Leafs are now 17-1-0 when leading after the first period
- Mitch Marner’s goal seven seconds into the game tied Charlie Conacher’s team record for the fastest goal at the start of a game (February 6th, 1932)
- John Tavares will join Auston Matthews in representing the Maple Leafs at the 2019 NHL All Star game
Out of town scoreboard
Thursday, January 3
Calgary 4 Boston 6
Florida 3 Buffalo 4
Carolina 5 Philadelphia 3
Chicago 2 NY Islanders 3 (OT)
Vancouver 0 Montreal 2
Washington 2 St. Louis 5
Tampa Bay 6 Los Angeles 2
More coverage to follow. Image from Maple Leafs Hot Stove.