Detroit Free Press
National Hockey League
Preview
Toronto at Minnesota
When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 4, 2021
Where: Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota

The Toronto Maple Leafs will be going for a team-record eighth consecutive road win Saturday night when they play the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul, Minn.

The Maple Leafs, who are on a five-game winning streak overall, have won 15 of their past 17 after trouncing the visiting Colorado Avalanche 8-3 on Wednesday behind Auston Matthews' fourth career hat trick.

They will be facing a high-scoring Minnesota team that has won five straight after defeating the visiting New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.

Toronto has won seven consecutive road games during three other seasons -- 2002-03, 1960-61 and 1940-41.

"We have a really good sense right now of the way we need to play," Maple Leafs captain John Tavares said. "You just never feel settled or comfortable. You want to keep going and understand what is bringing you success."

Before defeating Colorado, Toronto had completed a four-game trip with the final three of the games on the West Coast.

Sometimes teams struggle in their first game back after a long trip, but the Maple Leafs started quickly on Wednesday. William Nylander scored 4:31 into the game and they led 3-1 after the first period.

"I liked our start for sure," Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. "We thought we needed to start quickly in the game and, obviously, playing with the lead is important."

During practice on Friday, Mitchell Marner and Jake Muzzin collided during a drill. After a heated exchange between the two, Marner left the practice early with a trainer.

"Precautionary," Keefe said. "We'll see how he is in the morning. It's not looking like anything serious at this point. He's going to travel and all that stuff and prepare to play."

As for the exchange, Keefe said: "I was told there was a little bit of an exchange. ... but, especially those two guys, I don't worry about that kind of stuff at all. Things happen out there. ... Our team's really close and that kind of stuff will be shaken off pretty quickly."

Kirill Kaprizov continued his strong play for the Wild with two goals and an assist on Thursday.

"His legs are really good right now," Wild coach Dean Evason said. "He's playing with such pace, and when he does that, he must be so hard to defend."

He has scored three or more points in a game four times this season. He has six goals and 11 assists since Nov. 18 after a slow start. He has nine goals and 19 assists for the season.

"To be honest, I didn't change much," Kaprizov said through a translator. "When I wasn't scoring, I didn't want to change anything. I wanted to stick to my game and that's what I've done. Obviously, it's just going in now, and that's the difference."

Ryan Hartman added a goal and two assists for the Wild on Thursday.

The Wild still were without captain Jared Spurgeon (lower-body injury) and winger Frederick Gaudreau (COVID-19 protocol) on Thursday. It was unclear whether either will be available for the game on Saturday.

Ondrej Kase (upper-body injury) could return Saturday for Toronto.

Toronto assigned goaltender Petr Mrazek (groin) to the Marlies (AHL) on a conditioning loan.

Forward Kirill Semyonov cleared waivers on Thursday, allowing Toronto to terminate his contract so that he can return to the KHL.

--Field Level Media

Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Toronto 17-6-1-0 W5 10-3-1-0 7-3-0-0 1-0-0-0 16-6-1-0 6-1-0-0
Minnesota 16-6-0-1 W5 9-2-0-0 7-4-0-1 3-1-0-1 13-5-0-0 5-2-0-0
Last Meeting
Toronto Minnesota
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
12/31/19 TOR 4 MIN 1 29 26 1-3 27 25 1-3
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
Toronto A. Matthews 2
Minnesota K. Fiala 1
Goals Player  
Toronto A. Kerfoot 1
Minnesota R. Suter 1
Assists Player  
Toronto T. Barrie 1
Minnesota K. Fiala 1
Saves Player  
Toronto F. Andersen 26
Minnesota D. Dubnyk 25
Season
Total Points Player  
Toronto J. Tavares 30
Minnesota K. Kaprizov 31
Goals Player  
Toronto A. Matthews 13
Minnesota R. Hartman 15
Assists Player  
Toronto M. Marner 19
Minnesota K. Kaprizov 21
Saves Player  
Toronto J. Campbell 569
Minnesota C. Talbot 537
Quickchart Matchup
Toronto Off vs  Minnesota Def
3.08 GF
2.91 GA
34.1 Shots
30.4 Shots
15 PP
14 PK
Minnesota Off vs  Toronto Def
3.74 GF
2.17 GA
33.9 Shots
30.5 Shots
10 PP
9 PK