TORONTO – Wild winger Ryan Donato was rushing into the Maple Leafs’ zone, closing the gap to goalie Frederik Andersen during a clear-cut breakaway.
But when Donato unleashed the puck from his stick, it didn’t go toward the net.
Instead, he ripped the puck into the side boards – a sign of frustration since the play was whistled down before Donato could attempt a shot on Andersen.
“Could have made it a 2-2 game,” winger Ryan Hartman said.
The Wild will never know if Donato would have capitalized and evened the score because Hartman tugged on Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin behind the play, taking a hooking penalty that nixed the action.
Only 10 seconds into the ensuing advantage, Toronto scored to continue a four-goal second period that set up an eventual 4-2 win over the Wild Tuesday at Scotiabank Arena.
“That was tough,” Hartman said.
After the game, Hartman called the sequence “embarrassing” on Muzzin’s part.
An argument could be made that Muzzin should have been called for embellishment since he fell to the ice easily after Hartman reached out but as coach Bruce Boudreau pointed out, Hartman didn’t need to make contact regardless.
It was a play that perfectly captured how self-inflicted much of the Wild’s woes have been amid a 1-5 start.
“He can blame Muzzin all night, but what a great play by Muzzin,” Boudreau said. “There was no need for it. We had a breakaway completely all the way in.”
That wasn’t the only blemish on the night.
The penalty kill was dinged for a pair of goals in the second after going 5-for-5 Monday in the 2-0 win over Ottawa.
“We seemed to get out of rhythm there in the second and took some penalties and they capitalized,” center Eric Staal said. “They’ve got some pretty good players that can make some plays, and we just seemed to be chasing it the whole second.”
Goalie Devan Dubnyk dropped to 0-5 with a .867 save percentage and 4.44 goals-against average.
“It's frustrating,” Dubnyk said. “You can't start to feel sorry for yourself. That's a loser mentality. Just put it aside and work as hard as you can. That's all you can do. I don't know. It's a difficult situation to be in and certainly didn't expect to be here. I've been through difficult times before, and they were a lot different than this. I feel good every time I'm on the ice. I feel comfortable. It's just not coming together at the end of the game for whatever reason right now.
“I just know if I go out and work as hard as I possibly can and stick with these guys in this room and if we stick together and I put my head down and work as hard as I can for these guys, we'll start ending up on the right side of things.”
What was a positive for the Wild was winger Gerald Mayhew scoring his first career goal in his NHL debut, even if Mayhew didn’t break out in celebration after he smacked in a loose puck with 1:02 to go in the game.
“It’s tough,” Mayhew said. “Down 4-1, you score a goal like that. I mean, there’s still time left. There’s a minute. You never know. Anything can happen. But yeah, deep down I wanted to celly.”
Mayhew ended up playing 10:09, putting two shots on net and having another two blocked. He also dished out three hits and won two faceoffs, all this after he took to the ice for the pregame skate by himself initially before his teammates joined him.
“It was a learning experience for me today,” Mayhew said. “ … You just got to keep building off your mistakes and learning about them and just going out there and playing with confidence.”