Jason Brough

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An encouraging start for the Leafs, except for the blown leads

The Toronto Maple Leafs are a young team, and they showed it last night when they jumped out to a 4-0 lead in Winnipeg, only to lose, 5-4, in overtime.

Winnipeg scored three times in the third and Patrik Laine completed his hat trick in overtime, marking the second time this young season that the Jets had won a game they trailed 4-1 after 40 minutes.

“They got better in the third and, in the end, you get what you get,” said Leafs coach Mike Babcock, per the Toronto Sun. “It’s disappointing, you want to shut the game down.”

Frederik Andersen had another tough outing. The Leafs’ starting goalie allowed five goals for the second time this season. After three starts, his save percentage sits at just .876. It’s still very early, and he did play well Saturday, but it’s a story worth monitoring given he’s signed through 2020-21 with a $5 million cap hit.

Overall, though, it’s been an encouraging start for the blue and white. Auston Matthews and William Nylander have been a dangerous duo offensively, even if Babcock would like them to be better defensively. Mitch Marner has shown well; he scored his first NHL goal on Saturday. The Leafs have had a chance to win all three of their games. They did win one of them; they blew third-period leads in the two others, falling both times in overtime.

Toronto plays again tonight in Minnesota, then finishes its road trip Saturday in Chicago.

Backup Jhonas Enroth is scheduled to be in goal against the Wild, his first regular-season start as a Leaf.

Dumba to be healthy scratch for Wild, is ‘trying to do too much’ (Updated)

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Matt Dumba turned 22 in July, so he’s still pretty young for an NHL defenseman. But for a seventh overall draft pick, the Minnesota Wild might’ve expected him to be making more of an impact by now.

Alas, Dumba will be a healthy scratch tonight at home against Toronto. He’ll be replaced by AHL call-up Mike Reilly.

“Dumba is going to be a really good player,” said coach Bruce Boudreau, per Michael Russo of the Star Tribune. “He is right now. He’s trying to do too much. We just want him to calm it down.”

The 2012 draft was notable for the eight defensemen that were taken with the first 10 picks. Four years later, some of them have panned out, like Morgan Rielly (fifth overall) and Hampus Lindholm (sixth). Some of them haven’t, like Griffin Reinhart (fourth). But for most of them, it remains to be seen what they’ll ultimately become. Dumba is in that boat, along with Ryan Murray (second), Derrick Pouliot (eighth), Jacob Trouba (ninth), and Slater Koekkoek (10th). Even Reinhart may figure it out, though it doesn’t look good right now.

Dumba signed a two-year, $5.1 contract extension over the summer. It was the kind of deal that highly touted young players sign when they still have something to prove, which Dumba clearly does.

Updated: It appears Dumba will, in fact, get into the Wild lineup Thursday. According to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, fellow defenseman Marco Scandella didn’t take warm-ups and is dealing with an illness. Dumba did take the pre-game skate.

Smith heads home to get diagnosis from Coyotes’ doctors


The Arizona Coyotes still have five games left on their road trip, but goalie Mike Smith is headed home to see the team’s doctors after getting injured Tuesday in Ottawa.

Smith had an MRI yesterday but head coach Dave Tippett said there’s still no diagnosis, per Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic. For now, the Coyotes are considering Smith day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Louis Domingue will start tonight in Montreal, backed up by Justin Peters, who’s been recalled from the AHL on an emergency basis.

“It’s definitely not the plan having Mike down,” Domingue said, per the team’s website, “but when someone goes down the guys have to step up, and I’m just one of them.”

The Coyotes also play tomorrow in Brooklyn and Sunday in Manhattan, so it’s possible that Peters could see some action. The 30-year-old spent all of last season in the AHL. He hasn’t been in the NHL since 2014-15, when he struggled as Braden Holtby‘s backup in Washington.

Brian Campbell expected to be healthy scratch


Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell is expected to be a healthy scratch Friday in Columbus, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

It’s a somewhat surprising development considering the attention Campbell’s return to Chicago was given over the summer, but the ‘Hawks have eight defensemen on the roster and that means, when everyone’s healthy, two have to sit each game.

“We don’t want the same two guys sitting out all the time,” head coach Joel Quenneville said. “Sometimes you don’t want to tinker with a winning lineup, and sometimes . . . you’ve got to get them in there to play. That’s what we’re visiting.”

The Sun-Times says to expect Trevor van Riemsdyk to get back into the lineup against the Blue Jackets, paired with rookie Gustav Forsling. Van Riemsdyk has only played once this season, and his name has recently popped up in trade rumors.

Veteran Michal Rozsival has yet to play, but could get in the lineup soon. He skated with Campbell at practice Wednesday.

Starting Friday in Columbus, the ‘Hawks play three games in four nights. They host Toronto Saturday and Calgary Monday. So the decision to scratch Campbell could, in part, be a way to keep the 37-year-old fresh in the early stages of a long season.

But it may also be related to the side he plays. Campbell shoots left, and last season in Florida he played the left side paired with either Aaron Ekblad or Erik Gudbranson, both of whom shoot right.

So far in Chicago, Campbell’s been on the right side, paired with left-shooting Forsling, who was not expected to make the team. Van Riemsdyk and Rozsival both shoot right and may be more natural partners for either Campbell or Forsling.

At any rate, time will tell how everything shakes out.

“That’s the thing with our defense,” said Quenneville. “You haven’t etched in stone how long it’s going to be with one guy. … That’ll be fun to see exactly how it’s going to end up.”

Lower stakes, but Sharks aim to ‘make a statement’ in return to Pittsburgh


PITTSBURGH (AP) The stakes are nowhere near the same: hockey immortality versus two points in the standings in the second week of a long season.

Still, the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins expect the atmosphere to be a little more heated than the usual NHL October product when they meet Thursday night barely four months removed from Pittsburgh’s six-game victory in the Stanley Cup Final.

“It was obviously tough to go on that long a journey and lose the way we did,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. “I don’t think there was any doubt at the end of the day they deserved to win, but at the same time I think for us it’s a chance to go in, and we’re a different team this year, and make a statement that we are a different team this year.”

The Penguins, in essence, are not. They brought back nearly the entire group that captured the franchise’s fourth championship and led to a raucous downtown parade in mid-June. A week removed from a giddy opening night in which the 2016 Cup banner was raised at newly renamed PPG Paints Arena, the Penguins are trying to focus on the next chapter instead of the last one.

That shouldn’t be a problem.

The Penguins are coming off sloppy performances in an overtime loss to Colorado on Monday and a 4-0 setback in Montreal on Tuesday. Captain Sidney Crosby – the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the MVP of the 2016 playoffs – remains out indefinitely with a concussion and goaltender Matt Murray is still on the mend from a broken hand.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan is focused on his team getting its act together. The fact the Sharks (3-1) happen to be next on the schedule is coincidental.

“You’ve got to bring your A-game each and every night to give yourself a chance,” Sullivan said. “But certainly, coming off the type of game we had (against Montreal) and our opponent moving forward, there should be plenty of motivation for us to make sure we respond the right way.”

The Penguins did relentlessly during the 2016 postseason, seizing control of the best-of-seven final by taking the first two games at home and eventually closing the Sharks out on the road in Game 6. The giddy celebration in the visiting locker room in San Jose will be long remembered. It also won’t mean a thing when the puck drops on Thursday.

“They’re probably going to have a chip on their shoulder and we obviously didn’t play too great (in Montreal), so we’re obviously going to have a chip on ours,” forward Bryan Rust said. “I think it’s going to be a physical, playoff-like atmosphere.”

San Jose appears just as sharp as it was last spring when it reached the Cup Final for the first time ever. If the Sharks need a reminder of how close they came, they only need look up at Pittsburgh’s banner-strewn rafters. There’s no going back, however. Another long trek to the postseason awaits. Thursday night is just one more step in the process.

“It’s important that we keep building our game and trying to get better,” captain Joe Pavelski said. “We understand it’s a long ways from getting back to that position and this is a good team that we’ll be playing.”