Toronto Maple Leaf Game Report - January 3
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Thursday, January 3, 2019
It’s a safe bet that after a darn good start to the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs wouldn’t have expected to kick off 2019 without both of their goaltenders and with a loss to the Minnesota Wild.
Well, it’s January 3rd and reality for the Leafs is just that.
After Frederik Andersen was placed on injured reserve early Thursday morning, and with Garret Sparks undergoing concussion protocol, Maple Leaf newcomer Michael Hutchinson, who was acquired from the Florida Panthers just five days ago, got the nod in net.
With a 1-1-2 record and a 4.17 goals against average this season, the native of Barrie, Ontario would need the support of the second highest scoring offense in the league and it didn’t take long.
Seven seconds to be exact, for Mitch Marner to put one past Devan Dubnyk and tie the franchise record, set in 1932, for the fastest goal to start a game.
A mere 5:31 later, Marner was at it again, and netted his second of the game to make it 2-0 Leafs early. Marner was selected for the NHL All-Star game… right? No, but John Tavares was, and he assisted on both of Marner’s goals.
Hutchinson was tested early, stopping 18 of 19, including a Zach Parise breakaway, in the opening frame. Charlie Coyle was the only Wild player to squeak one past Huthinson to make it 2-1 Leafs after one.
Mikko Koivu tied the game at two just five minutes into the third, but the Leafs took the lead again courtesy of, just as Auston Matthews predicted, William Nylander.
It was almost nine months ago that we last saw Nylander’s name in the goal column, and finally, after the contract saga and twelve games played this season, the so-called “monkey” is off Willy’s back. He even pretended to take a monkey off his back and throw it into the crowd during his goal celebration.
Maybe it was the fresh haircut, or maybe it was because Matthews promised to get him the puck as much as possible… it’s likely the latter, but regardless, Nylander put the Leafs up 3-2 midway through the second period.
The fans couldn’t bask in Willy’s glory for long, as Jared Spurgeon notched his third point of the game just over a minute later to bring the two teams even at three a piece after two periods.
Zach Parise broke the tie, his 18th of the year, just 4:21 into the final frame off a bad turnover by Matthews in the defensive zone.
Toronto had ample chances to score, outshooting Minney 19-4 in the third, but Dubnyk was absolutely stellar. Sure, he got some help from his friend, the post, once off a Matthews power play shot, and another in the dying seconds of the game. Leafs net was empty with 2:45 left, but they had no answer for Dubnyk who made 38 saves for his 14th win of the season. This win coming just hours after the Wild netminder was named to his third All-Star game.
Up next for the Leafs, they host the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. As for the Wild, their road trip continues in Ottawa on Saturday as well.
1. MIN - #40 Devan Dubnyk
2. TOR - #16 Mitch Marner
3. MIN - #46 Jared Spurgeon
1. The Maple Leafs hosted the “Next Generation” Game, which was meant to celebrate fans of all ages and promote the future of hockey in Toronto, on and off the ice. A neat experience for the fan base and all the “mini” participants including skaters, coaches, refs, PA announcer, etc.
2. Michael Hutchinson made 30 saves in his Maple Leafs debut. He made 31 saves on New Years Eve in his Marlies debut in a 5-4 OT win over the Charlotte Checkers.
3. Kasimir Kaskisuo was called up from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies to serve as the Leafs back up. He has yet to make his NHL debut.
4. Toronto was 17-0-0 when leading after one period this season.
5. Jared Spurgeon led all players in ice time with 25:57. Morgan Rielly, a close second, with 25:36.
6. Mitch Marner had the game high nine shots on goal.