Toronto at Minnesota

Wild 6, Maple Leafs 1

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- When Justin Pogge stepped between the pipes for Toronto on Tuesday night, so began an apprenticeship program for the young goaltender who is considered the Maple Leafs' top prospect.

Pogge was called up earlier this week and was scheduled to return to his AHL club after the game regardless of how he performed. After watching his defensemen fail in front of him time after time against the Minnesota Wild, he may not be in a hurry to get back.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard had two goals and an assist and the Wild skated right through Toronto's defense in a 6-1 victory over the Maple Leafs.

"We've got a lot of guys who have to show a lot more pride in their performance defensively than they are showing," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "You should dig in a little harder when you've got a young kid playing goal."

The 22-year-old Pogge managed only 15 saves in his second career start. But he had virtually no chance on all four goals in the second period thanks to sloppy play in front of him, which has plagued Toronto all season long.

"Yeah, it's over," Pogge said. "I can't change the fact that I let in six. Oh well, (forget) it. It's time to go on to the next one."

Marc-Andre Bergeron, Cal Clutterbuck, Andrew Brunette and Owen Nolan also scored for the Wild, who were last in the NHL in even-strength goals coming into the night. But Minnesota got all six in five-on-five play against the Maple Leafs.

"That's huge," said Brunette, whose Wild travel to Edmonton and Vancouver this weekend. "For us, to feel good that we can score some goals and make some plays and gain some confidence before we go to a couple of tough places to play, getting even strength goals is huge."

Minnesota native Jason Blake scored for Toronto, which lost for the eighth time in nine games and 12th time in its past 15.

"Right now it's a garden full of weeds and I need to pick some weeds," Wilson said. "It's as simple as that."

It is probably not a coincidence that one of the games Wilson wanted Pogge to play in was against offensively challenged Minnesota.

The Wild entered the night 24th in the NHL in total goals and had only 62 scores in five-on-five. But they have been scoring better lately.

In their first 41 games, they averaged 2.4 goals a game. They have averaged 3.8 in their past six.

Three of Minnesota's four second-period goals came in a three-minute burst.

Bergeron started the binge when he walked right in past sleeping Toronto defenders, took a feed from Bouchard behind the net and beat Pogge through his legs.

Eric Belanger followed with a steal at center ice and then fired a late crossing pass to Bouchard on a two-on-one for an easy one-timer.

Just 45 seconds later, the 37-year-old Nolan won a foot race with defenders Luke Schenn and Ian White to a puck that should have been icing and slipped a backhand pass to Mikko Koivu on yet another odd-man rush. Koivu fed Brunette coming in on the weak side, and he scored on a wide-open net.

Bouchard capped the period with a breakaway goal, dizzying Pogge with a double-deke before slipping the puck between his legs for a 5-1 lead.

"You can't blame him," said Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom, an All-Star who made 27 saves and had a nice view of all six of those goals. "He made the saves he could. We scored three, four, five goals on empty-netters."

Wilson said the performance didn't change his opinion that Pogge will be "a great NHL goalie."

"This is a good experience for him, how he handles getting kicked around like that," Wilson said. "We'll see how he plays in the next couple games with the Marlies. But it will be a good experience for him."

Notes

Maple Leafs D Mike Van Ryn played for the first time since Dec. 18. He was out after suffering his second concussion of the season, but was cleared by doctors to play earlier this week. ... Brunette played in his 500th straight game. "As a kid I hated to miss any kind of activity with friends," Brunette said. ... It was Bouchard's first two-goal game since Dec. 1 against Colorado.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Scoreboard
Toronto (17-23-8)0101
Minnesota  (24-20-3) «1416
Three Stars
P. Bouchard
MIN


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 1
A. Brunette
MIN


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
C. Clutterbuck
MIN


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0

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Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
09:12Cal Clutterbuck (8), Snap Shot. Assist: Sheppard, Veilleux
2ND PERIOD
04:29Jason Blake (15), Backhand Shot. Assist: White, Moore
05:29Marc-Andre Bergeron (5), Slap Shot. Assist: Bouchard, Belanger
07:47Pierre-Marc Bouchard (9), Snap Shot. Assist: Belanger, Miettinen
08:26Andrew Brunette (12), Wrist Shot. Assist: Koivu, Nolan
18:14Pierre-Marc Bouchard (10), Wrist Shot. Assist: Miettinen, Johnsson
3RD PERIOD
09:08Owen Nolan (12), Wrist Shot. Assist: Brunette, Zidlicky
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
10:32Moore, 2 min, High-Sticking
2ND PERIOD
11:21White, 5 min, Fighting
11:21Clutterbuck, 5 min, Fighting
11:21Blake, 2 min, Cross-Checking
3RD PERIOD
10:48Belanger, 2 min, Slashing
10:48Moore, 2 min, Slashing
12:09Stajan, 2 min, Slashing
Shots On Goal
 123T
Toronto6121028
Minnesota511521
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Justin Pogge60:00156
Niklas Backstrom60:00271
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
Toronto0-for-0
Minnesota0-for-3
Game Information
Attendance - 18568
Referees - Chris Lee, Don Van Massenhoven
Linesmen - Ryan Galloway, Brian Mach
 
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