The first five minutes and 11 seconds of the game describe the Wild’s game right now perfectly.
At least four and a half that time was spent in the Maple Leafs’ zone. However, despite all that work, the Wild were outshot 5-2 and outscored 2-0.
Nazem Kadri got the scoring started at the 50 second mark by knocking a rebound into the open net behind Niklas Backstrom. The play got started when Backstrom and Marek Zidlicky had a miscommunication at the side of the goal on the Maple Leafs dump in. Backstrom played the puck to the corner with two Maple Leafs’ forwards bearing down the Wild defense. Zidlicky turned to defend the goal as the puck slid to the corner. It appeared that he thought Backstrom was going to cover it.
The Maple Leafs (23-18-5) took a two-goal lead at the 5:11 mark when third or fourth line wing Joey Crabb skated around Jared Spurgeon and cut across the top of the crease to tuck the puck under Backstrom’s arm.
The Wild (22-18-7) avoided the shutout with 2:27 remaining when Nick Johnson fired a shot at the net from a sharp angle. The puck snuck between Jonas Gustavsson’s left knee and the post. Johnson made a strong move at the faceoff dot to shrug off a check after receiving a pass at the blue line. Clayton Stoner sent a long pass up the middle of the ice that Kyle Brodziak redirected with his skate to Johnson at the boards.
After there were no penalties in the first period, were assessed six penalties while drawing only two power plays all in the second period.
The Maple Leafs scored its final two goals (one on the power play and one with both teams having one player in the penalty box) with the help of the fourth and sixth penalty called on the Wild.
No. 3 – Phil Kessel. The Maple Leafs forward scored one goal, but could have had several more.
No. 2 – Joey Crabb. The Maple Leafs forward scored the eventual game-winning goal.
No. 1 – Joffrey Lupul. The Maple Leafs forward recorded three assists.
Minnesota 0 0 1 – 1
Toronto 2 1 1 – 4
First Period – 1, Toronto, Kadri 4 (Lupul), :50. 2, Toronto, Crabb 8 (Steckel), 5:11. Penalties – None.
Second Period – 3, Toronto, Kessel 25 (Bozak, Lupul), 15:48 (pp). Penalties – Peters, Min (hooking), 3:23; Zidlicky, Min (hooking), 6:43; Steckel, Tor (hooking), 9:34; Stoner, Min (high sticking), 13:40; Clutterbuck, Min (slashing), 14:25; Brodziak, Min (boarding), 19:39; Brodziak, Min (unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:39; Gunnarsson, Tor (interference), 19:51.
Third Period – 4, Toronto, Grabovski 15 (Lupul, Gardiner), :47. 5, Minnesota, Johnson 6 (Brodziak, Stoner), 17:33. Penalties – None.
Shots on goal – Minnesota 9-4-8 21. Toronto 8-15-10 33.
Goalies – Minnesota, Backstrom (29-33). Toronto, Gustavsson (20-21). A – 19,421. Referees – Dean Morton, Dan O’Halloran. Linesmen – Lonnie Cameron, Scott Cherrey.