Maple Leafs aim to extend winning streak against Wild in Sweden

Maple Leafs aim to extend winning streak against Wild in Sweden

By Field Level Media

Paced by the streaking William Nylander, the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to play well.

Meanwhile, the struggling Minnesota Wild eye anything positive to build upon.

Riding his franchise-record 16-game point streak to open a season, Sweden native Nylander looks to help the Maple Leafs win their fourth straight game Sunday against the Wild in the finale of the NHL Global Series at Stockholm. (Watch live on Sportsnet and Sportsnet+ starting at 8 a.m. ET.)

Auston Matthews might be Toronto’s undisputed superstar, but there are not many playing better than Nylander, who has 11 goals and 14 assists. Nylander, who lives in Sweden during the offseason, had a goal with two assists as the Maple Leafs scored three times in the third period to overcome a 2-0 hole and win 3-2 over Detroit in Stockholm on Friday.

“Family being here, the Swedish fans, I think this was really special,” said Nylander, who has coincidentally thrived while in the final season of his six-year, $41.4 million contract, but would rather focus on his team’s success.

“The streak for me is what it is. I’m just focusing on working hard, and if there is a point that happens, it happens. But, the most important thing is that we get the win.”

Toronto has won three straight following a 1-3-2 stretch. In addition to Nylander, teammate John Tavares has seven points in the last four games after he also recorded a goal with two assists versus Detroit.

The Maple Leafs’ Ilya Samsonov made 27 saves Friday while allowing two goals for a second straight start after yielding four on 12 shots during a 6-5 win over Tampa Bay on Nov. 6. Meanwhile, teammate Joseph Woll has a 4.67 goals-against average in his last four starts.

Samsonov made 28 saves while Matthews recorded a hat trick and Nylander posted two goals with an assist during Toronto’s 7-4 home victory over Minnesota on Oct. 14. The Maple Leafs have won four straight amid a 6-0-1 stretch against the Wild, who are mired in an 0-3-1 rut and have just two wins and six points in their last 10 games.

Minnesota managed one of those points via Saturday’s 2-1 shootout loss versus Ottawa in Stockholm. Marco Rossi scored the lone goal for Minnesota, which also allowed fewer than three goals for just the fourth time in 16 games this season.

“For the most part, we liked our game,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “The group, they know they played hard, they played well.

“We didn’t get the result, which is disappointing, but the process is correct. You just got to keep doing it over and over again.”

Meanwhile, Wild star Kirill Kaprizov (15 points this season) was held without a point for the fifth time in the last 10 games. Kaprizov had an assist last month at Toronto, where Rossi scored one of his six goals.

Swede Filip Gustavsson (4.15 goals-against average) stopped 26 of 33 shots at Toronto this season, and made 30 saves Saturday in his home country. He could be back in net Sunday, according to Evason. Teammate Marc-Andre Fleury (3.41 GAA) allowed every Dallas goal while facing 37 shots during an 8-3 loss in his most recent start on Nov. 12.

The Wild’s Mats Zuccarello recorded career assist No. 400 on Saturday. He’s registered eight of his team-leading 17 points in seven games this month.

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