NHL: Wild aim to tame Mitchell Marner, Maple Leafs
After helping to stop one streak, Mitchell Marner will try to extend his own on Friday afternoon when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Minnesota Wild at St. Paul, Minn.
Marner stretched his point streak to a career-best 14 games (three goals, 16 assists) on Wednesday with an assist as the Maple Leafs opened a four-game road trip with a 2-1 road victory over the New Jersey Devils.
Toronto snapped New Jersey’s 13-game winning streak and avenged a 3-2 overtime loss to the Devils on Nov. 17.
The Wild, meanwhile, have won two of their first three games of a seven-game homestand following a 6-1 romp over the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday.
If they are to make it three straight wins, they will need to deal with Marner. He set up captain John Tavares for his team-leading 12th goal of the season on Wednesday as the Maple Leafs played their first game without defenseman Morgan Rielly (knee).
Matt Murray stopped 34 shots, Pontus Holmberg scored his first NHL goal and defenseman Mac Hollowell played his first game in the league on Wednesday.
The conversation, however, was about the fan reaction during the third period after the Devils had a goal disallowed for the third time in the game.
Spectators littered the ice with beer cans and other debris, and the Maple Leafs left their bench during the cleanup.
“It’s full beer,” Marner said. “It’s dangerous. We’re not looking for that. We’re not seeing it coming. Dodged a couple. They got really dangerous. Rasmus Sandin almost took one in the head. … It’s not like they’re throwing it just for joy. They’re throwing it to try and hit us. That’s the first I’ve ever seen. It’s insane.”
“This is a character win for our team, given what we’re going through,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “On the road, against this team, with that type of push and the atmosphere in here, this was a really good day for the Leafs.”
Toronto defenseman Jordie Benn sustained an upper-body injury Wednesday and will be re-evaluated. Defenseman Conor Timmins, acquired Wednesday in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes, was set to join the Maple Leafs on Thursday.
The Wild were glad to have regained their scoring touch on Wednesday.
“It was a good effort,” said Marcus Foligno, who had two goals for Minnesota. “Everyone was really into it. We shot a lot of pucks. We kept it simple. We went to the net. We just played our game.”
“I think it was time for us to break through,” said Matt Boldy, who had a goal and two assists, “It’s obviously hard to score goals. We’ve got to do a better job. I think (Wednesday) is a step in the right direction for sure.”
Minnesota acquired rugged forward Ryan Reaves Wednesday from the New York Rangers in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick.
“We’ve been having trouble finding or refining our identity,” Wild general manager Bill Guerin said. “I think Ryan’s an identity guy for us. And the fact of the matter is that he’s big. We need some size. We’ve had a hard time getting back to our identity, and I think he’ll help.”
Reaves could make his Wild debut on Friday
“He’s just always full of energy,” Guerin said. “He’s a big personality. I think right now that’s something our team really needs.”
–Field Level Media