Preview: Wild at Maple Leafs
TORONTO — There is a question about the status of Auston Matthews for the second game in a row.
The Toronto Maple Leafs center was a game-time decision Monday, and he played, contributing a strong rush to set up one goal in the 4-3 shootout win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
After he missed practice Tuesday morning, there was uncertainty about his status for the game Wednesday against the Minnesota Wild at the Air Canada Centre.
The Wild are coming off a 5-3 loss to the injury-depleted Boston Bruins on Monday that led the Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau to say: “It’s like the Keystone Kops out there. Guys that know how to play hockey aren’t playing very well.”
Minnesota (5-6-2) has three wins in its past seven games. Toronto (9-7-0) has two wins in its past seven games.
Matthews is said to have some “soreness,” and he was to undergo tests on Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re in a holding pattern here,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “When you first have something wrong with you, you want to know what it is first, and a big part of that is the mental side. You worry, then once you know what it is, you can either play through it because it’s no big deal or you can get it fixed and then get it feeling better.
“He was fine (against Vegas). He was not as dominant as he normally is. He didn’t have the same kind of power or whatever you want to call it, but we’ll see.”
Matthews had treatment before talking to the media after the game Monday.
“It’s been lingering a little bit and then kind of came back in that St. Louis game (a loss to the Blues on Saturday),” he said. “It’s just a little bit of soreness. It was fine to play tonight, though. …
“I think you never really feel 100 percent. I felt good enough to play and felt good enough to be able to contribute tonight. You always want to do things better, but in the end, we got two points.”
Matthews, who has 10 goals and nine assists, has not missed a game since starting his NHL career last year, a total of 104 games.
The Maple Leafs are playing the second or three games in a row at home after a 1-3-0 road trip. The Wild are playing the second of four straight away games after a 3-3-0 homestand.
Boudreau was not happy with the way the trip started in Boston.
“We weren’t very competitive,” he said. “The first two periods, that was probably the most embarrassing two periods I’ve been involved with in a lot of teams. (Boston) was doing nothing in the first 10 minutes. And then, we give them two goals, and we give them life. And then all of a sudden, we sit back and don’t do anything. It’s embarrassing.”
With the Bruins leading 4-1, Devan Dubnyk was replaced in the Wild goal by Alex Stalock for the third period. Stalock likely will be the starting goaltender against Toronto.
“It’s disappointing,” Wild center Eric Staal said after the game Monday. “It’s going to be up to us to find our way out of it. … We get another chance Wednesday (in Toronto). There’s a lot of (games) coming up here, so we’ve got to find it quick.”
The Maple Leafs made two moves on Tuesday, sending right winger Kasperi Kapanen, 21, on loan to their Toronto Marlies affiliate in the American Hockey League and recalling center Frederik Gauthier.
Gauthier, 22, had two assists in eight games with the Marlies. He had two goals and an assist in 21 games with the Maple Leafs last season.
Kapanen had no points in three games with the Maple Leafs and three goals in six games with the Marlies.
The Maple Leafs also loaned center Eric Fehr, 32, to the San Diego Gulls of the AHL from the Marlies. Fehr had no points in four games this season with the Maple Leafs before being sent to the Marlies on Oct. 28.