TORONTO (AP)William Nylander scored 1:05 into overtime, and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 on Friday night.
David Kampf also scored for Toronto (36-15-8), and Ilya Samsonov made 24 saves. Nylander added an assist to give him 70 points on the season.
The Maple Leafs improved to 6-8 in OT this season after starting an ugly 1-6. That forced coach Sheldon Keefe to tweak his approach in 3-on-3 by putting a defensive forward out to take the initial faceoff.
”Overtime was an issue for us,” Keefe said. ”We changed our strategy a little bit in terms of how we started, how we deploy the guys. The luck has gone our way a little bit in terms of getting us more time with the puck.
”It’s given more opportunities for players like Will to make plays like that.”
Minnesota (32-21-6) had won four in a row, including a 2-0 victory at Columbus on Thursday. Brandon Duhaime scored for the Wild, and Filip Gustavsson made 22 stops.
”We liked everything about our game tonight – except missing one point,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said.
The Leafs are set to head out on a five-game road trip that includes their annual swing through Western Canada. They won’t play again at Scotiabank Arena again until March 11.
”We’re going to be in a lot of those games down the stretch and in the playoffs,” Toronto defenseman Mark Giordano said of Friday’s razor-thin margin. ”You gotta take what’s there and not force it, not get frustrated.”
Nylander stripped Frederick Gaudreau off the puck in the Minnesota zone and then dangled around Wild forward Matt Boldy before beating Gustavsson for his 33rd goal of the season.
”I knew there was a forward there,” Nylander said. ”Just tried to take it to the net. I saw that he was kind of flat-footed.
”It was gonna be hard if I came with some speed.”
The Wild opened the scoring on a strange first-period sequence. Duhaime’s centering pass went off Toronto’s Calle Jarnkrok and sneaked by Samsonov for his seventh.
The Leafs responded before the period was over. Kampf got his sixth from in tight off a Nylander setup from behind the net.
Playing their first game against an opponent in a postseason spot at the start of play since Feb. 1 against Boston, the Leafs got a power play in the second, but came up empty.
The Leafs’ fifth-ranked man advantage got another opportunity with under eight minutes left in the third, but Gustavsson stopped a Nylander one-timer.
The Wild then got their first power play with less than four minutes remaining in regulation, only to have Samsonov and Toronto’s penalty killers hold firm.
MURRAY POISED TO RETURN
Keefe said before the game that goaltender Matt Murray (ankle) is expected to join the team at practice Saturday. The 28-year-old Murray hasn’t played since getting pulled Jan. 17 after allowing four goals on eight shots in a 5-4 overtime victory against Florida.
Wild: Host Columbus on Sunday.
Maple Leafs: Visit Seattle on Sunday.
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