Granlund, Koivu score goals to lead Wild past Maple Leafs

Published 9:04 am Friday, March 4, 2016

TORONTO — Special teams was key for the Minnesota Wild as they score twice on the power play and they didn’t even give Toronto a chance to get the man-advantage.

Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund scored power-play goals to lead the Wild to a 2-1 victory over the Maple Leafs on Thursday night. Minnesota scored with the extra man for the 15th time in its last 19 games.

“It’s been a huge key for us the games we have won, especially on the road,” Granlund said. “We’ve been able to score on the power play, and hopefully we can keep doing that. Right now, our confidence in the PP is up. I don’t know if we are doing anything special.”

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Devan Dubnyk had 21 saves for the Wild, who hold the second wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference.

This game marked only the seventh time in franchise history the Wild didn’t take a penalty.

“I thought our kill was great,” Minnesota interim coach John Torchetti said.

Jake Gardiner gave the Leafs the lead early in the second period with his sixth goal of the season and Garret Spars — making his second start since being recalled from Toronto of the AHL last weekend, finished with 20 saves.

The Maple Leafs, coming off a 3-2 loss at Washington the previous night, fell to 1-10-2 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.

Toronto coach Mike Babcock was unhappy with the officiating as his team was whistled for four penalties and the Wild none.

“I thought we got ripped off big time today,” Babcock said. “I don’t get it. It makes no sense to me. The other thing I know is the people didn’t pay to watch (the officials) play, they pay to watch the players.”

Babcock was specifically perturbed with the penalty called on Leo Komarov, which led to Granlund’s winner. Komarov got tangled up with Wild leading goal-scorer Charlie Coyle in the Minnesota zone and was called for interference.

“I think it’s a bad call,” said Komarov, echoing the frustration of his coach. “There’s nothing to say about it. It’s a bad call, that’s how I see it.”

Koivu tied the score with just under nine minutes left in the second period when his pass attempt appeared to ping off the skate of Leafs defenseman Matt Hunwick in front for his 14th goal this season.

Granlund put Minnesota ahead when he sent a shot over Sparks’ left shoulder with about 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

Following a scoreless first period, Gardiner got Toronto on the board with a hard slap shot that eluded Dubnyk’s grasp. The goalie was screened on the shot by Brooks Laich, playing in his third game with the Leafs following a Sunday trade from Washington.

The Wild tied the score at one on a power-play a few minutes later on Koivu’s goal.

Minnesota has been scoring in bunches since John Torchetti replaced Mike Yeo, averaging nearly four goals per game since the change was made coming into play on Thursday.

Toronto’s increasingly young lineup got younger against Minnesota.

Twenty-one-year-old Brendan Leipsic replaced 33-year-old veteran Brad Boyes, who missed the game with an upper body injury.

Leipsic joined 19-year-olds Kasperi Kapanen and William Nylander, 22-year-old Nikita Soshnikov, 23-year-old Zach Hyman, 21-year-old Connor Carrick and 22-year-old Frankie Corrado in the Leafs’ lineup following a round of callups after Monday’s trade deadline.