Maple Leafs overcome slow start, beat Wild 4-2
TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Maple Leafs have made a habit of falling behind early this season.
That didn't matter much against a slow, tired opponent Tuesday.
Mitch Marner had a goal and two assists and Toronto overcame a slow start and beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2.
"We weren't as good as we'd like to be in the first," Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said. "We've got to do a better job."
Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly added four assists in the second period, tying a franchise record for assists in a period of a regular-season game set by Rick Vaive on March 12, 1984.
"We just talked about being patient and not trying to force too much," Rielly said. "I thought we played a good first and obviously didn't get the results we wanted."
Luke Kunin and Gerald Mayhew scored for Minnesota. Devan Dubnyk stopped 30 shots for the Wild, who were coming off a 2-0 win at Ottawa on Monday.
"It was definitely not the second period we wanted," Dubnyk said. "You want to try and find a way out of that better than we did."
Minnesota head coach Bruce Boudreau lamented his veteran roster's lack of foot speed, which was evident against the high-powered Leafs.
"I wish I had a magic potion to make everybody faster," Boudreau said. "But I don't. That's why you've got to grind it out."
After falling behind early for the sixth time in seven games overall and the fifth time in five home dates, Toronto rallied with four goals in the second period.
Tavares got things going at 1:58 when he scored on a slap shot off the post and past Dubnyk for his second of the season.
"I've just been watching it ... no one seemed to be going," Babcock said of the switch. "Tried it and it seemed to be OK, so we just stayed with it."
Marner then gave the Leafs their first lead on a power play at 7:17. He took a no-look pass from Johnsson down low and fired a shot through the pads that Dubnyk.
The Wild, who will play 13 of their first 18 games on the road, appeared to have a chance to even the score later in the period, but Ryan Hartman pulled down Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin with Ryan Donato off to the races on a breakaway.
Toronto made Minnesota pay 10 seconds later when Johnsson batted a puck out of the air in Dubnyk's crease at 8:29. The Leafs connected on two of their first three power-play opportunities after entering 5 for 22 on the season.
Toronto went up 4-1 at 13:05, when Matthews scored his seventh on a pretty give-and-go with Marner off the rush and scoring on his own rebound after Dubnyk, made the initial stop after an awkward Wild change.
Andersen was called on to stop Marcus Foligno on a breakaway in the final minute of the second after the Leafs' fourth line and third defensive pair got caught being too aggressive in the offensive zone.
Andersen had to be sharp five minutes into the third on 3-on-1 break. He robbed Zach Parise after Toronto turned the puck over on an odd-man rush.
Johnsson nearly got his second later in the period, but his blast from the hash marks rattled the crossbar and stayed out.
Mayhew, who was making his NHL debut, scored late for the Wild.
The Wild opened the scoring at 5:29 of the first after Dubnyk stopped William Nylander on a break and killed off an early penalty.
Kunin got the puck at the top of the faceoff circle and fired a shot that beat Andersen.
NOTES: Mayhew, a 26-year-old product of Ferris State University and a veteran of 164 American Hockey League games, did a solo lap before warmups. ... Dubnyk entered the game 0-4-0 with a 4.56 goals-against average and .862 save percentage.
Wild: At Montreal on Thursday.
Leafs: At the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.