Leafs hope to extend hot start against Wild

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to continue their terrific start to the 2013-14 campaign when they welcome the streaking Minnesota Wild for Tuesday's clash at Air Canada Centre.

The Maple Leafs have built an impressive 5-1-0 record through six games and have won two straight contests heading into Tuesday. Toronto's most recent victory was a wild one, as the Leafs downed the visiting Edmonton Oilers, 6-5, in overtime on Saturday.

The Leafs and Oilers were tied 2-2 after one period and the score was 3-3 after 40 minutes. Edmonton then held a pair of one-goal leads in the third period, but was unable to hold either of them.

Toronto tied the game at 5-5 on Joffrey Lupul's tally with 31 seconds remaining in regulation and Dave Bolland netted the game-winning goal at 2:09 of overtime.

On the winning play, Toronto came up with a loose puck after Cody Franson stole it from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and broke down the ice on a 3-on-1 advantage. Franson and Mason Raymond slid the puck back and forth before the former unleashed a wrister, which caromed to a streaking Bolland, who slapped it home for the game-winner.

Lupul and James van Riemsdyk each scored a pair of goals for the Leafs, while Nazem Kadri recorded a goal and an assist. Franson, Raymond and Dion Phaneuf all had two assists in the triumph and Jonathan Bernier stopped 26 shots to earn the victory.

"It was a crazy game," said Bernier. "As a goalie you're pretty happy when guys are battling hard. The main thing is we got two points."

Bernier has been a big factor in Toronto's quick start to the campaign. He came to the Leafs in an offseason trade and has grabbed a hold of the club's No. 1 goaltender spot from James Reimer, who helped lead the club its first postseason trip since 2004.

In his first five outings with Toronto, Bernier is 4-1-0 with a 1.74 goals against average and .946 save percentage. Bernier has made the past three starts for the Leafs, while Reimer hasn't played since getting pulled in the second period of a win against Ottawa on Oct. 5.

Toronto is playing the middle test of a three-game homestand on Tuesday and is 2-1-0 at ACC this season.

The Maple Leafs have fared well in their history against the Wild, claiming seven of the 10 all-time meetings between the two clubs. Minnesota has lost five of its six games in Toronto.

Minnesota enters Tuesday's tilt riding a three-game winning streak and the Wild kept the Buffalo Sabres winless on the season with a 2-1 win at First Niagara Center on Monday. Jason Pominville scored in his return to Buffalo as the Wild posted a 2-1 regulation win over the struggling Sabres.

Back on the familiar ice at First Niagara Center, the former Sabres captain broke a 1-1 tie with a power-play goal late in the second period. Pominville played parts of nine seasons with Buffalo to begin his career before being traded to the Wild last April.

"I've had so many good memories in this building and in this city," Pominville said. "It was nice to get (a goal) and win on top of it."

Kyle Brodziak supplied the other Minnesota goal, and Josh Harding stopped 22- of-23 shots in the Wild's third consecutive win following an 0-1-2 start to the season.

With regular No. 1 goaltender Niklas Backstrom battling a strained knee, Harding has started the last three games for Minnesota. If Backstrom is unable to man the crease on Tuesday, it may be Darcy Kuemper's turn to start and give Harding a rest.

The Wild are 1-1-0 on the road so far and they began a four-game swing Monday in Buffalo. Minnesota will visit the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers before returning home to St. Paul.