TORONTO — Frederik Andersen made some timely saves on Wednesday — most notably in the second period with the game tied — that proved to be the difference for his Toronto Maple Leafs.
Andersen stopped 35 shots in all as Toronto downed the Minnesota Wild 4-2 for its second straight win.
"He won them the game," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau.
The Leafs took three straight minor penalties in the second, including two tripping calls on defenceman Andreas Borgman, that could have led to a disaster. But Andersen was there to keep it a 1-1 game long enough for his team to pay him back.
First he made a big save on Matt Cullen with his right pad to keep it tied before Patrick Marleau rushed up the ice to score Toronto's second goal. Then he robbed Tyler Ennis from in close after a turnover midway through the frame to hold the lead.
"I got a good read on what (Cullen) was going to do, I was able to throw the leg out and (Marleau) went down and scored, it was nice," said Andersen.
Toronto led 2-1 after 40 minutes despite being outshot 23-12.
"Cullen misses at one end, they score at the other or we're probably going into the third with a 2-1 lead," said Boudreau.
Devan Dubnyk stopped 15-of-18 shots for Minnesota (5-7-2).
Leafs (10-7-0) coach Mike Babcock shifted Marleau to the middle with star centre Auston Matthews out day to day with an upper-body injury. Matthews was scratched for the first time since his NHL debut last season, playing in 98 straight games including all 82 last year in his Calder Trophy winning campaign.
"I don't want Patty to play in the middle but right now we need him and I thought he stepped up tonight," said Babcock.
Both teams had trouble getting its offence going in the early stages of the game, with neither having a real scoring chance in the first 10 minutes. Toronto went the first 8:49 without a shot on net.
Nazem Kadri finally opened the scoring — off a lucky bounce or two — at 12:56 of the first. Morgan Rielly's point shot missed the net, but the puck ricocheted off the end boards back out front and hit Dubnyk in the leg before caroming into the net. It was announced as Rielly's goal but replay showed Kadri got a piece of Rielly's shot with his stick and was eventually credited with his ninth goal of the season.
Boudreau believed Kadri knocked the puck in with a high stick but decided not to challenge the call.
Jason Zucker tied the game for Minnesota with 1:45 to play in the first, banging in a rebound from the top of the crease on a play that started with Toronto turning the puck over behind its net.
Marleau restored the lead for Toronto with his sixth of the season 3:47 into the second when he took a pass from Zach Hyman and beat Dubnyk five-hole from between the face-off circles.
Carrick gave the Leafs some breathing room 3:40 into the third period with his first of the year when his point shot deflected past Dubnyk for a 3-1 lead. Matt Martin was originally credited with the goal.
The Leafs caught a break with 9:37 to play in regulation when Andersen appeared to tweak his right arm and was in discomfort, but he stayed in the game after taking a TV timeout to speak with the training staff at the bench.
"It didn't feel too good right away, got a little lucky (though). Scary moment," said Andersen.
Carrick took an undisciplined roughing penalty and Zucker scored his second of the night while on a power play with 4:59 to go on a similar play as his first goal by banging home a rebound from the top of the crease.
"It's unfortunate we didn't get the result we wanted," said Boudreau. "I thought we played a pretty complete game for the most part."
Any chance of a comeback was halted when Brown scored an empty netter with 30 seconds to play.
"All in all a good night for us. Good for our goaltender too," said Babcock. "Confidence is an important thing and it's hard to get in the league. A good night for him."
Kyle Cicerella, The Canadian Press