Wild Down Maple Leafs – Parise Nets Winner

TORONTO — Zach Parise scored the winner as the Minnesota Wild fought back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to down the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in rare weekday afternoon game Thursday.

Jared Spurgeon, with a goal and two assists, Charlie Coyle, with a goal and an assist, and Mikko Koivu also scored for Minnesota (19-17-3). Devan Dubnyk, who was named to his third NHL all-star game on Wednesday, stopped 38 shots for the Wild.

Mitch Marner, with two, and William Nylander had the goals for Toronto (26-12-2).

Michael Hutchinson made 30 saves in his debut for the Leafs in an emergency recall from the minors. John Tavares added two assists as Toronto dropped its second straight game following Saturday’s listless 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders that snapped a five-game winning streak.

The 2 p.m. ET matchup was dubbed by the Leafs as their “Next Generation Game” — one aimed at celebrating youth and encouraging the next generation of hockey fans.

Parise took advantage of a turnover by Auston Matthews at 4:21 of the third period to beat Hutchinson upstairs past the glove for his 18th to give Minnesota its first lead.

Minnesota Wild Zach Parise Toronto Maple Leafs Michael Hutchinson Nikita Zaitsev
Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise celebrates a goal past Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Michael Hutchinson as Leafs defenceman Nikita Zaitsev looks on. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

Toronto got a power play midway through the period, with Matthews hitting the post shortside on Dubnyk.

The Leafs pulled Hutchinson with 2:45 left on the clock, but were unable to get anything past the Wild netminder, including a chance that dribbled off the post in the dying seconds.

The stands at Scotiabank Arena were dotted by significantly more kids than usual for the matinee start that included a flashy opening ceremony with children dressed up as players, referees and announcers.

There were even miniature versions of Leafs head coach Mike Babcock and famed commentator Don Cherry.

Marner gave them all something to cheer about right out of the gate when he jumped on a loose puck and fired a backhand off the post and in just seven seconds after the opening faceoff to tie the Leafs’ franchise record for the fastest goal at the start of a game.

The 21-year-old winger, who was snubbed for the all-star game despite sitting sixth in league scoring with 53 points before taking on the Wild, then made it 2-0 with his 15th goal of the season and ninth in the last eight games.

Marner deftly collected the puck in the neutral zone and worked a highlight-reel give-and-go with Tavares off the rush at 5:38.

Hutchinson and fellow netminder Kasimir Kaskisuo were recalled from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis with both No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen (groin) and backup Garret Sparks (concussion protocol) out of action.

Andersen is on injured reserve, while Sparks, who took a shot up high in Wednesday’s practice after starting Toronto’s last three games, sat out for precautionary reasons.

Hutchinson has only been with the organization since Saturday following a trade with the Florida Panthers for a fifth-round draft pick in 2020 as an insurance policy after the Leafs lost both Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard on waivers before the season.

The 28-year-old from nearby Barrie, Ont., who was still sporting white pads with red trim, made some nice saves early, but Coyle cut the deficit to 2-1 at 9:10 when he scored his seventh on a rebound.

Hutchinson made a nice stop on a partial Parise breakaway later in the period, one of his 18 saves in the opening 20 minutes.

Minnesota eventually got even at 5:09 of the second when Koivu swatted his sixth past a down-and-out Hutchinson, but Nylander, who cut his blonde locks over the holidays, replied with his first at 8:16 when he beat Dubnyk upstairs to make it 3-2.

The winger had just two points in his 11 previous games since his contract impasse with the Leafs ended on Dec. 1 with a six-year, $45-million agreement.

Parise hit the crossbar moments later, but the Wild got back on level terms at 9:36 when Spurgeon was given all day to pick his spot on Hutchinson, sneaking a shot through the netminder’s five-hole for his fifth.

Notes: Marner’s goal seven seconds into the game tied Charlie Conacher’s team record set on Feb. 6, 1932. … Hutchinson was 1-1-2 with an .839 save percentage and a 4.18 goals-against average in four games for the Panthers this season, but was a respectable 43-39-11 with a .910 save percentage and a 2.65 GAA in 102 games between 2013 and 2018 with Winnipeg. … Tavares and Matthews were named as Toronto’s all-star game representatives.


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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press