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Postgame Hat Trick: Maple Leafs 4, Wild 2

Minnesota drops third-straight game despite outshooting Toronto 37-19 on Wednesday

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 4-2 loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Wednesday night:

1. Babies have been a popular topic inside the Wild dressing room lately, and it was new daddy (again) Jason Zucker who got Minnesota on the board near the end of the first period.

After a funky bounce off the end wall staked the Leafs to a 1-0 lead, Zucker drew the Wild back even with 1:45 remaining in the opening 20. Minnesota worked a nice cycle in the Toronto zone before the puck came free to Eric Staal near the left face-off circle. He wristed a shot toward the Leafs goal that Frederik Andersen stopped, but the puck popped a few inches off the ice, enough for Zucker to whack out of mid-air for his fourth goal of the campaign and first since the birth of his son, Hendrix, who arrived on Oct. 27.

Video: MIN@TOR: Zucker slams home juicy rebound in front

The goal snapped a five-game goal drought for Zucker, but it wasn't his only contribution on the night.

Trailing by a pair in the third period, Zucker scored again, this time on the power play, to get the Wild back within one goal. Minnesota pulled goaltender Devan Dubnyk with just over two minutes left in regulation, but Connor Brown dumped the puck into an empty net to provide the final margin.

Video: MIN@TOR: Zucker pots second goal on power play  

"I was pleased with everybody's game almost. But sometimes things go against you," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "We'll take that effort tomorrow night, and we'll see where it leads. If we play like this tomorrow night, we may lose, but at the same time, that's the kind of effort we need to win."

2. Despite the loss, there were positives to take from the game.

The Wild outshot Toronto by a 37-19 margin, including a 28-13 mark over the final 40 minutes. Minnesota had the puck on its stick for a bulk of the contest and played the game at its own pace.

Minnesota also had the best of the scoring chances, having a number of quality chances stymied by the rock solid play of Leafs goaltender Andersen, who finished with 35 saves.

"We played a lot better. It's unfortunate we didn't get the result we wanted, but we played a pretty complete game for the most part," Boudreau said. "Hopefully it's something to build on. It always gets worse before it gets better, but we played the way we're supposed to play. That's why we had possession of the puck, that's why we did a lot of good things. It's hard to be mad at them when everyone gives everything they have and we just come up short."

Video: Bruce Boudreau postgame at Toronto

Players in the dressing room weren't interested in making excuses afterward, and while they were encouraged by the small steps, results are ultimately what they said they're looking for.

"We need to face it, we can't put it behind us and just forget about it, we need to be better, we need to use it," Zucker said. "We know we have to go into Montreal tomorrow and play a good game. They're a good team, especially in that building and we didn't see them too long ago so we know how they play, but we need to go in and play a great 60 minutes or we're not going to win that game. We need to focus on what we didn't do well tonight and fix it, and on what we did do well and be better at it."

3. While players and coaches hate terms like "puck luck," there's no doubt the Wild has lacked it recently.

In Boston on Monday, the Bruins scored the go-ahead goal by blasting a shot that bounced off the post, off the back of Devan Dubnyk and into the goal. 

On Wednesday, Leafs defenseman Morgan Reilly ripped a shot intentionally wide of the net. It was tipped by Nazem Kadri, bounced off the end wall and back into the blue paint, where it bounced off Dubnyk's left skate and in, putting Toronto ahead 1-0 at 12:56 of the first.

Then in the third, Connor Carrick's point shot was headed wide of the goal, but was deflected in off Wild defenseman Gustav Olofsson's stick as he attempted to clear the crease area, a perfect redirection but an imperfect result.

"It is tough and it is deflating but I thought we handled it well. We came back and scored," Boudreau said. "C'est la vie, when things aren't going good, these are the things that happen."

There's nobody more frustrated than Dubnyk, who was otherwise solid in making 15 saves in place of scheduled starter Alex Stalock, who returned to the Twin Cities on Wednesday morning to be with his wife, Felicia, as she's giving birth to the couple's second child.

"It's tough. I'm not going to lie. After each game you tell yourself it's bound to stop and it keeps going," Dubnyk said. "There's nothing you can do about it. Just try to keep playing my game. It's getting old."

Video: Locker room postgame at Toronto


Loose Pucks

• For Zucker, it was his eighth career multi-goal game and first since Feb. 18 of last season. 

• Staal finished with two assists. 

• The loss snapped Minnesota's seven-game winning streak against Toronto.

Ryan Suter also had an assist and is second on the team with nine helpers.

• Attendance: 19,049


He Said It

"I mean, it's night and day. Obviously the last game was a terrible effort, a terrible game for us. Tonight we wanted to come in and do what we did. Obviously we didn't get the end result we wanted, but I thought it was a step in the right direction." -- Wild defenseman Ryan Suter on the effort Wednesday compared to Monday in Boston


Dan's Three Stars

* Jason Zucker

** Frederik Andersen

*** Connor Brown

Video: MIN Recap: Zucker scores twice in loss to Maple Leafs

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