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Leafs fall short in loss to Stars

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO - Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk added to his ironman streak and the Wild extended their string of road wins to nine, hanging on for a 2-1 victory over slumping Toronto on Monday night.

The loss was the sixth straight for the Maple Leafs (27-41-6), who came close several times to tying it in a late comeback and deserved better on the night.

Charlie Coyle and Thomas Vanek scored for Minnesota (41-25-7), which has gone 23-6-2 since acquiring Dubnyk on Jan. 14.

Toronto defenceman Jake Gardiner made it interesting with 6:24 remaining, tapping in the puck after a Joffrey Lupul slapshot trickled through Dubnyk's legs. Lupul had gone 17 games without a point.

The game marked the 32nd consecutive start for Dubnyk, who can add to that streak Tuesday against the Islanders. The 32nd straight starts — one of which came while Dubnyk was with Arizona — are the most by an NHL goalie since Anaheim's Jonas Hiller did it (Jan. 12 to March 18, 2012).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Antti Niemi started 34 games in a row for San Jose from Jan. 15 to April 4, 2011.

The six-foot-six Dubnyk hasn't missed a start since joining the Wild from the Arizona Coyotes, a run that includes four sets of back-to-back games.

Attendance was announced at a less-than-capacity 18,366 and there were plenty of empty seats at the Air Canada Centre where patience and wins are both in short supply. The only other non-sellout of the season was Game 4 against Colorado which drew 18,754.

The Leafs are 8-32-3 since ending a 10-1-1 run in mid-December. But there were signs of life with captain Dion Phaneuf, who injured his hand in a fight earlier this season, dropping the gloves in the second period to engage Kyle Brodziak after the Wild forward objected to a thumping clean check.

Toronto also blocked shots and had the edge in the faceoff circle.

Minnesota came into the game leading the Western Conference wild-card chase with 87 points, one point ahead of Winnipeg which played in Edmonton later. The Wild started the night with a 27-point bulge over the sagging Leafs.

Both Dubnyk and Toronto's Jonathan Bernier were efficient in goal. Bernier was by far the busier in a 16-save second period, making several fine stops including denying Mikko Koivu when his breakaway shot bounced right back to him off the back boards.

The Leafs came close in a mad scramble at the end of the second period.

Coyle opened the scoring with 1:02 left in an uneventful first period, winning the draw and then tucking in the puck after a scramble in front. It was his 11th goal of the season and marked the 12th time in 13 games that the Leafs have yielded the first goal.

Vanek made it 2-0 from the high slot at 9:08 of the third after a slick passing play resulted in his 19th of the season.

The Leafs honoured defenceman Eric Brewer prior to the game for reaching the 1,000-game milestone in the NHL.


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