Goalie leads Wild past Maple Leafs

Published 4:49 am Tuesday, March 24, 2015

TORONTO — While the Minnesota Wild keep on winning on the road, the Toronto Maple Leafs can’t seem to earn a victory anywhere.

Devan Dubnyk added to his ironman streak, making his 32nd straight start, and the Wild extended their string of road wins to nine, hanging on for a 2-1 victory over the slumping Maple Leafs on Monday night.

“A huge two points,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “Not at any time were we comfortable in that game. Toronto played a really good game. They made it really tough on us.”

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The loss was the sixth straight for Toronto (27-41-6), which came close several times to tying it late.

“We’ve got to take positives where we can get them,” said Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul, who snapped a 17-game pointless streak with an assist. “We competed pretty hard with a really good, desperate team. But again the point is to win.”

The announced attendance was below the capacity of 18,366 and there were plenty of empty seats at the Air Canada Centre, where patience and wins are in short supply.

The only other non-sellout of the season was the fourth game against Colorado. This was believed to be the team’s lowest attendance ever at its current home arena.

Charlie Coyle and Thomas Vanek scored for Minnesota (41-25-7), which is 23-6-2 since acquiring Dubnyk on Jan. 14 from Arizona.

“He’s on a hell of a run, this guy,” Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk said.

Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner scored with 6:24 remaining, tapping in the puck after Lupul’s slap shot trickled through Dubnyk’s legs.

Outshot 16-10 in the second period, the Maple Leafs turned the tables in the third with an 18-5 edge in shots.

“We had a lot of good chances in the third,” said Toronto coach Peter Horachek, who counted 10 scoring chances in the final period. “I thought there was a pushback, there was an effort.”

Dubnyk can add to his playing streak Tuesday against the New York Islanders. The run, that includes one game with Arizona, is the longest by an NHL goalie since Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller did it in 2012.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Antti Niemi started 34 games in a row for San Jose from Jan. 15-April 4, 2011.

The 6-foot-6 Dubnyk has started back-to-back games four times during the his streak.

The Maple Leafs are 8-32-3 since a 10-1-1 run ended in mid-December. But there were signs of life with captain Dion Phaneuf, who injured his hand in a fight earlier this season. He dropped the gloves in the second period to fight Kyle Brodziak after the Wild forward objected to a hard, clean check on Erik Haula.

Both Dubnyk and Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier were efficient in goal. Bernier was by far the busier in a 16-save second period, making several fine stops, including one to deny Mikko Koivu when his breakaway shot bounced right back to him off the back boards.

The Maple Leafs came close to scoring during a mad scramble at the end of the second period.

Coyle opened the scoring with 1:02 left in an uneventful first period, winning a faceoff and tucking in the puck after a scramble in front. It was his 11th goal of the season and marked the 12th time in 13 games that Toronto has yielded the first goal.

Vanek made it 2-0 from the high slot at 9:08 of the third after a slick passing play that resulted in his 19th goal of the season.

NOTES: The Maple Leafs honored D Eric Brewer before the game for reaching the 1,000 NHL games played milestone.