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Five Takeaways From Wild At Maple Leafs

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Following Wild games, Content Coordinator Evan Sporer will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at the Wild's 2-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.

TORONTO --

FIRST TAKEAWAY

That was a game the Wild needed to walk into and take two points. And with a special teams opportunity to do so, grabbed it, and got out of Air Canada Centre with a victory.

It was the Wild's third straight, a streak during which Minnesota has found different ways to win. A commonality in all three though was entering the third period tied. Twice at home, the Wild scored next before adding empty net goals.

On the road, it's not a bad position to be in, with a good 20 minutes separating the Wild from a win in those situations.

"You have to be able to handle a tight game, and count on your guys, the leaders," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said. "Our leaders did a good job chipping it, getting it deep, and good cycles.

"We were holding onto the puck, and just buying into winning that game."

Finding a way to win, as the saying goes, is crucial right now for Minnesota, in that the Wild needs to continue to rack up points by any means necessary as it continues to push toward the playoffs.

"That's all that matters, wins, and we don't care how we get them," Mikko Koivu said. "Every single point matters, and that's our goal, to get two, in each and every night."

Under Torchetti, the Wild now owns a four-game winning streak, and a three-game streak. At 7-3-0 overall, Minnesota is earning points at a higher clip, and positioning itself to be playing hockey into mid-April.

SECOND TAKEAWAY

The Wild power play is providing a big boost, and on Thursday, won it the game.

Now with at least a power-play goal in 15 of its past 19 games, the Wild clicked again with an extra skater on Thursday twice, with Koivu scoring his 14th of the season (WATCH), and sixth on the power-play in the second, and Mikael Granlund scoring the game-winner in the third (WATCH).

The Wild also is on a franchise-best 11 game road streak with a power-play goal, and going into a visiting building and spotting yourself a goal isn't a bad way to do business.

"It's been a huge key for us the games we have won, especially on the road," said Granlund, who scored the game-winning goal in the third, on the power play. "We've been able to score on the power play, and hopefully we can keep doing that. Right now, confidence in the PP is up."

Where Minnesota's power play has found success recently is by taking more shots. If it's an overly simple-sounding strategy, in some respects, it may be, but increased shot attempts have led to more Minnesota special teams goals.

"Has there been anything so special?" Granlund said. "It's just the way it goes sometimes. Some pucks goes in, and sometimes they don't, and when you've got the confidence in the power play, that's a huge thing, and we're getting those bounces right now."

Koivu's goal came on likely what was a pass, as he flung the puck toward the crease in the direction of Zach Parise, carrying Toronto defenseman Matt Hunwick with him, and creating some chaos as the puck careened off what appeared to be goalie Garret Spark's stick and in.

The Wild's second power-play goal of the game was a bit more important, with Granlund walking the puck down from the wall before picking out the glove-high corner, and illuminated how special teams can be a game-deciding factor.

"The power play was the difference tonight," Koivu said.

THIRD TAKEAWAY

From his first shift on Thursday, you could tell how David Jones can fit in and make an impact for the Wild.

True to his word, and his scouting report, Jones was a straight-line, go-to-the-dirty-areas complement to linemates Thomas Vanek and Mikael Granlund.

On that first shift, with the puck on Vanek's stick, Jones drove to the net, stick on the ice, and nearly redirected a Vanek pass past Sparks.

Nothing fancy to that play, or to Jones game, and that's a compliment. Like he said, he doesn't have to change much to what he does to be an asset to the Wild, which is why they plucked him before the NHL trade deadline.

FOURTH TAKEAWAY

In a similar respect, it was an under-the-radar, but solid return for Jonas Brodin, who played on Thursday after missing the past 13 games with a broken foot.

Where Brodin helps the Wild, and fits into its mold well is how he can catalyze its zone exits.

Brodin is solid in his wall battles, wins pucks, and then quickly gets the puck up to the Wild's forwards. He expedites the process by which the Wild starts up ice, and in doing so, doesn't give the other team the luxury of turning, facing the play, and being able to skate backwards in the neutral zone.

"He did a great job with his gaps, knocked down a few passes being in motion at the blue line, and had a great shot on that chance," Torchetti said.

Brodin nearly broke a 1-1 tie in the third when his shot from the point rang off the iron.

"I was hoping he'd put that home, but he hit the crossbar," Torchetti said. "He didn't miss a beat. Pretty good conditioning while he was out for three weeks."

Also lauded for his ability to help the Wild on the penalty kill, Brodin will have to wait to show that acumen, as the Wild stayed out of the box for the third time this season, and first since Dec. 15, a 35-game stretch.

"I thought our kill was great tonight," Torchetti said.

FIFTH TAKEAWAY

With this the second of two games on the schedule between the Wild and Maple Leafs this season, Minnesota and Toronto will next meet during the 2016-17 season.

When that happens, the Maple Leafs will reportedly have new uniforms, signifying Toronto's centennial season, and providing a new look for an Original Six franchise.

Toronto will re-brand, getting a new logo, new jerseys, and the works. Times are changing for the Maple Leafs, as evidenced by the lineup they dressed on Thursday, with the likes of William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Zach Hyman, and the list goes on.

Whatever tweaks Toronto makes to its look, it's worth one more time appreciating its current sweater, the sleek dark blue with the clean white maple leaf crest smack in the middle.

Undoubtedly, the franchise will come with another classic design to ring in its 100th anniversary.

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