The Minnesota Wild should have followed the lyrics of the song by Pentangle “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme” in this case Frederik Andersen, who with the help of missed opens nets, stole one for the Leafs Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Nylander saga finally resolved at the 11th hour should have been motivational enough for the Maple Leafs but instead it appeared a number of players went into a bit of shell looking over their shoulders knowing someone will be a healthy scratch when 29 returns next week.
The Leafs jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead on a power play goal by Auston Matthews and Tyler Ennis haunting his old team with his 4th of the year.
Toronto must have thought they were still at the Scotiabank Arena because they went into that 2nd period funk that seems to come over them at home and the feisty Wild took the game to them eventually rewarded by Leaf killer Eric Stall (23 goals 27 assists in 45 games) and Jordan Greenway with his 4th tied the game early in the second. The teams exchanged goals later in the period and the Leafs were lucky to emerge from the middle frame up one.
The Wild pressured the Leafs in the third and while continually frustrated by the heroics of Frederik Andersen, Jason Zucker who swarmed the Toronto net all night finally evened things up with his eighth of the season.
That old cliché “good teams find a way to win” was never truer after Nazem Kadri was credited with a fluky goal to give the Leafs the lead they wouldn’t surrender with less than 4 minutes to play. Zach Hyman outworked Ryan Suter for a loose puck with the Wild cage empty and put it out of reach with his second of game.
Andersen who remarkably wasn’t picked first star with a terrific 38 save performance was the difference in the game. Toronto turned the puck over constantly, looked flat; passes weren’t sharp and maybe they consumed too many Bratwursts at the Gardiner Classic Friday afternoon.
The good news is Toronto stole a game they had no business winning. However they better shake this one off before making the 2 hour trip down the QEW to play the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday because Nylander or not, they won’t get away with too many like this one.