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Spurgeon, Dubnyk lead charge for Wild in comeback win in Toronto

Duo played key roles down the stretch as Minnesota begins four-game trip on a positive note

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe /

TORONTO -- Few people will ever confuse Devan Dubnyk and Jared Spurgeon.

One is the Wild's 6-foot-6 goaltender. The other is its 5-foot-9 defenseman. One is a three-time All-Star, the other continues to be perhaps the most unheralded player in the NHL today.

Both were critical cogs in the Wild's 4-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday. 

Spurgeon was a horse all day, tying a career high with three points, including the Wild's second tying goal in the second period, 80 seconds after Toronto had re-taken a 3-2 lead. 

Video: MIN@TOR: Spurgeon sneaks a shot past Hutchinson

He also excelled in the defensive end, blocking a game-high five shots.

After Zach Parise's goal gave Minnesota its first lead of the day 4:21 into the third period, the Wild withstood a barrage of shots ... 19 of them in all. And if Spurgeon wasn't blocking them, Dubnyk was turning them away. 

Dubnyk, named to the All-Star Game on Wednesday, finished with 38 saves in the game.

Video: MIN@TOR: Dubnyk shuts down Tavares in front

"When we were down there in the third, there'd be a save and then Spurge would block a shot and then he'd block another one," Dubnyk said. "He gets hit behind the net, and he was just right in there with me and we were kind of fighting through it together. That's what he is. He had a huge block in the first period when it was 2-1. He does a little bit of everything for us."

The first-period block by Spurgeon came after a nifty passing play left plenty of net for Leafs forward Auston Matthews. A goal there would have been awfully tough for the Wild to overcome, especially after digging out of an early two-goal hole already.

Toronto's Mitch Marner scored seven seconds into the game, then added his second of the day 5 1/2 minutes later, and it looked like things could quickly go sideways.

But Minnesota stuck to its guns -- led by Spurgeon and Dubnyk -- and the rally began on Charlie Coyle's goal 9:10 into the first.

Video: MIN@TOR: Coyle roofs a loose puck from the slot

Mikko Koivu tied the game five minutes into the second before William Nylander gave the Leafs a brief lead with his first goal of the season.

Video: MIN@TOR: Koivu lifts shot past a sprawling Hutchinson

Less than two minutes after Nylander's tally, Spurgeon gained control of a puck along the right-wing half wall, realized he had plenty of time and space to get closer to the net, then carried it all the way to the right faceoff circle before firing a shot that beat Leafs goaltender Michael Hutchinson five hole.

The goal was one of the turning points of the game. 

Tweet from @mnwild: Bruce Boudreau seems pretty happy his mum stayed for the whole game 😂More on #MINvsTOR 👇

"As a [defenseman], I think we can do a better job of just getting shots on net," Spurgeon said. "We were able to get some chances, and none of our goals, except for that last one, were really pretty goals."

Four minutes into the third, Parise gave the Wild the lead and it didn't look back. Minnesota survived four minutes worth of short-handed hockey in the final period and its penalty kill went 4-for-4 on the afternoon.

Video: MIN@TOR: Parise roofs Coyle's feed to put Wild ahead

A team's best penalty killer is always its goaltender, and that was the case late. 

"I thought we stayed inside the dots really well and we blocked shots when we had to and Dubnyk made great saves when he needed to," Boudreau said.

Whether the victory is akin to a turning point in this season is yet to be seen, but it certainly has the feel that it could be one of those tent-post moments, especially if the Wild can translate that momentum forward on its current four-game road trip, which continues in Ottawa on Saturday.

Tweet from @mnwild: "At that point there was a lot of game left and sometimes things happen like that. I thought we answered good." More from Koivu, Dubnyk, Parise & Spurgeon after #MINvsTOR

"We've been playing well lately, just not getting goals or [making] timely mistakes by ourselves that shoot us in the foot," Spurgeon said. "Tonight, we overcame that and started to play solid."

"It's one win right now, two in three, so you just want to build on it," said Wild forward Mikko Koivu. "We have an experienced group, so we know next game will come quick, we'll get a little skate tomorrow, get better again and make sure we're ready to go when the puck drops in Ottawa."


Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 4, Maple Leafs 3

Video: Parise's goal in 3rd lifts Wild past Maple Leafs

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