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Leafs Drop Fourth Straight

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- The Minnesota Wild scored two power-play goals to capture a much-needed 2-1 victory Thursday night in Toronto.

Mikael Granlund whistled the eventual game-winner over the left shoulder of Maple Leafs goaltender Garret Sparks on a third period power play. It was the second of two power-play goals for the Wild, who helped their post-season positioning with the win.

Minnesota holds sole control of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 70 points this season.

Mikko Koivu also scored a power-play goal for the Wild, while Jake Gardiner managed his sixth goal of the year for the Leafs.

Making his second start since being recalled from the AHL's Toronto Marlies last weekend, Sparks made 20 saves in defeat. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 of 21 shots for the Wild.

The Leafs dropped to 1-10-2 on the second game of back-to-backs this season. They dropped a 3-2 defeat in Washington on Wednesday night.

Following a scoreless first period, both teams found the back of the net in the second.

Gardiner opened the scoring with a hard slapshot that eluded the grasp of Dubnyk, who 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 after that, Koivu's pass attempt appearing to ping off the skate of Leafs defenceman Matt Hunwick in front.

It was Koivu's 14th goal this season.

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 night.

Increased offence helped the Wild win six of their first nine games under Torchetti, who took over for Yeo in January.

Toronto's increasingly young lineup, meanwhile, 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, which got significantly younger following a round of callups after Monday's trade deadline.

Toronto coach Mike Babcock wanted to see a more consistent competitive performance in particular from Kapanen and Nylander against the Wild. The two lacked compete, Babcock suggested, in the Leafs' 3-2 loss in Washington on Wednesday night.

``There's lots to learn obviously and they're works in progress,'' Babcock said Thursday morning. ``But it's got to be a night-on every night.''

Kapanen and Nylander were noticeable, connecting for a pair of quality opportunities, including a Nylander shot that missed just wide.

Nylander managed three shots in nearly 16 minutes.

Acquired in a trade deadline day deal from Calgary, Wild winger David Jones played less than 13 minutes in his debut with the club.

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