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Wild edge Maple Leafs for ninth straight road win

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- Devan Dubnyk made 35 saves in his 31st consecutive start for the Minnesota Wild to help them to a 2-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Monday.

Charlie Coyle and Thomas Vanek scored for the Wild (41-25-7), who won their ninth straight road game and franchise record 21st of the season. The victory kept the Wild one point in front of the Winnipeg Jets for the first wild card into the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, and five points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings in the race for a postseason berth.

"It starts with goaltending, first and foremost," coach Mike Yeo said. "With that, special teams have helped us. If you look at tonight, we had a big penalty kill in the second period and that was a key moment in the game. A huge part of it for us has also been our depth. We've had big contributions from different guys. Tonight we got two goals from our third line that really helped."

Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner ended Dubnyk's shutout bid at 13:36 of the third period. Jonathan Bernier made 30 saves for Toronto (27-41-6), which has lost six in a row.

In 31 straight starts for the Wild, Dubnyk is 23-6-1 with a 1.74 goals-against average, a .937 save percentage and five shutouts. He has allowed two or fewer goals in 23 of the 31 games.

"I really try to enjoy each game and use it as a chance to sharpen up those things that I have been working on that have helped my game," Dubnyk said. "When you get to play every other night for months on end, there are lots of opportunities and different experiences that allows you to work on those things."

After winning a faceoff to the right of the Toronto net, Coyle drove hard to the goal and swatted a loose puck past Bernier at 18:58 of the first period for his 11th goal of the season.

Vanek gave the Wild some breathing room at 9:08 of the third period when he scored his 19th goal of the season. Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter rushed the puck into the Toronto zone and spied Vanek open in the high slot. After accepting a precise drop pass from Suter, Vanek sent a low shot past Bernier.

The Maple Leafs pulled back to within a goal four minutes later when Gardiner scored his fourth goal of the season. Toronto left wing Joffrey Lupul, who was held without a point in his previous 17 games, released a slap shot that Dubnyk denied. But the puck squeaked through Dubnyk's legs and was in the goal crease where Gardiner poked it in.

"We had a lot of good chances in the third period," Maple Leafs coach Peter Horachek said. "I mean, we had 10 good scoring chances. I didn't like the chances we gave them, but other than that I thought there was a push back and an effort. We had lots of second chances and you hope one of those would go in. I thought we would tie it up."

Dubnyk said all the action has not worn him down and he hopes to start against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday.

"My body feels good," Dubnyk said. "That is the main thing. Mentally, with the importance of all the games, it is easy to get up for the games because we need to win them all. It is up to me to pay attention to how my body is feeling and if something is ailing, I let somebody know. The coach has done a great job of giving me practice time off and just letting me play the games."

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