Minnesota Wild Breeze Through Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-1


116. Final. 3. 98. 1

Largely thanks to absolutely stellar play by Darcy Kuemper, the Minnesota Wild breeze past the Toronto Maple Leafs with a final score of 3-1. 

Good evening, Wild fans. The Wild started the new year off right, handily beating the Toronto Maple Leafs. Darcy Kuemper made some stellar saves to keep the Wild in the game despite being outshot the entire game. Goals from Kyle Brodziak, Jared Spurgeon, and Mikko Koivu sealed the win for the Wild who leapfrogged the Dallas Stars for 10th place in the Western Conference. Before we get to my notes, check out Dustin’s pre-game report for even more of tonight’s storylines.

First Period:

Really great pace on both ends of the ice for this one. The Wild’s 2nd line tonight; made up of Thomas Vanek, Kyle Brodziak, and Justin Fontiane was really good. After being outshot 4-1 in the first 5 minutes, Vanek and Brodziak both got denied by a sprawling Jonathan Bernier, who had to sit down in the crease. Vanek looked like a curler in the crease, shuffling his stick like a mad man trying to knock home a rebound.

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If you like goalie battles, the first period was for you. Bernier played just as well as Kuemper, leading to several collective sighs from the crowd. Kuemper kept the Wild from going down a few goals early with some impressive work. He needed that Holiday break and a few good wins to get his mind straight. Check out this save he made on Minnetonka native Jake Gardiner.

The Wild got a chance on the power play in the 16th minute, with

David Clarkson

holding the stick of

Ryan Suter

. Really good puck movement that didn’t have anybody screaming “SHOOT” from the stands yielded 3 shots on goal including a bomb from

Marco Scandella

that Bernier flashed the leather on. No matter who the keeper is, I love the drama of a good glove save.

Shots after one period: Toronto Maple Leafs 14, Minnesota Wild 10

Second Period:

The pace of the game slowed down some, but I still think this was among the best games this season from a fan perspective.

Roman Polak absolutely leveled Nino Niederreiter. I think it shook the dust off, since he made it on the score sheet later.

After evening the shot count, the Minnesota Wild let a few quality chances come off the sticks of Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf. Kuemper is getting better at bringing shots back to the front of the crease and holding his rebounds, that much is for sure.

Mikko Koivu sent the Maple Leafs to their first power play of the night by holding Tyler Bozak. The Wild was terrific on the PK, allowing just one shot. Just after the PK, Brodziak put the Wild on the board. David Clarkson negated a Toronto goal by running down Kuemper, so I guess that’s good.

Niederreiter stole the puck from Polak along the half-wall and dropped it off for Charlie Coyle who was rushing the zone with Brodziak. Coyle hugged the wall, threw on the brakes, and centered for Brodziak who deflected home his 5th of the year. Coyle earned the primary assist and Niederreiter earned the other. 1-0 Wild at 10:14 of the second period.

Niederreiter, Coyle, and Erik Haula had some good chemistry going through the game. Not much else to report on the second, though. Good period.

Shots through two periods: Toronto Maple Leafs 26, Minnesota Wild 20

Third Period:

Spurgeon took a quick penalty to open the 3rd and less than a minute later, Ryan Suter fired a clearing attempt 180 feet down the ice and straight over the glass, so the Leafs got some 5-on-3 time. Heck of a shot by Suter, though.

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  • Speaking of wicked shots, Cody Franson put the Leafs on the board with a huge one-timer from the blue line. 1-1 tie at 02:37 of the third period.

    After the power play expired, a year of neutral zone play expired until Spurgeon planted the eventual game-winner.

    Jumping up in the rush with Coyle, Niederreiter and Koivu, the young blue-liner let fired a slap-shot from the right face-off dot that rose up and over Bernier’s leg pads as he dropped in to the butterfly stance. 2-1 Wild 7:23 of the third period. Coyle earned his second assist of the night.

    The Wild earned another power play thanks to a buzz surrounding the team about a minute later, and Captain Koivu put the game out of reach for the visiting Leafs.


    Jason Pominville

    rang a shot wide,  scooped up the puck and made a no-look cross-crease pass to Koivu. Koivu fired a slap shot that caused him to fall to his knees as it dribbled past Bernier. Strangely, the shot was from the same spot as Jared Spurgeon’s game winner.

    3-1 Wild at 9:18 of the third period.

    A very chippy game ensued. Charlie Coyle and

    James van Riemsdyk

    both took coincidental roughing penalties. Coyle finally seems to get that guys his size need to have a physical presence to make plays happen. I don’t necessarily want to see him fighting, but he’s got to stick up for himself. The following 4-on-4 was pretty boring, though.

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  • Ryan Carter put the Wild shorthanded in the 14th minute for tripping. Toronto got a few low-quality shots away, but nothing got passed Kuemper. Have we all decided on a nickname for him yet? I like “the Kuemperor.”

    Phil Kessel sealed the Leafs fate, I think. He took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for barking at one of the referees in the 16th minute and the Wild were content to dump the puck off in the zone and eat the clock away.

    An empty net for the Leafs with a minute to go yielded no shots on goal and the Wild even avoided icing the puck. I imagine they’re used to extended periods of 6-on-5 play by now, eh? I’m looking at you, Avalanche. Game over, Wild win 3-1.

    Final Shots on goal: Toronto Maple Leafs 35, Minnesota Wild 29

    Trembley’s Take:

    Really good win for the Wild tonight; almost exclusively thanks to Darcy Kuemper. He had a 0.971 save percentage for his first home win in quite a while. He looked comfortable in the crease for the 3rd straight game, too.

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  • Charlie Coyle, who was playing on the “get it together” line with Haula and Niederreiter, had two assists and looked quite good. Maybe he’s getting it together. I still don’t like Niederreiter on that left wing, though.

    Speaking of Haula, he really redeemed himself tonight. His speed was good, he was better defensively, and won 59% of his face-offs. He also had a 65% corsi for. I hope this continues.

    The Wild is right back at it on Saturday night, taking on the Dallas Stars in big D at 7:00. The schedule makers have it out for our hometown club, sending them to Dalls on back-to-back nights a couple of times this season. Talk to you tonight!