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Toronto Maple Leafs Mitchell Marner celebrates after scoring his team's second goal with teammates Morgan Rielly, John Tavares and Andreas Johnsson during second period NHL hockey action against the Minnesota Wild, in Toronto on Oct. 15, 2019.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

One thing is certain about the Toronto Maple Leafs. They are good at beating bad teams.

They did it again on Tuesday, this time showing up for long enough to cuff the Minnesota Wild 4-2 at Scotiabank Arena. It was Toronto’s second straight victory following a three-game losing streak.

The Maple Leafs’ four victories this season have come against second-tier – or lower – teams that have combined to win seven games so far. It is reasonable to suspect that the only one with a winning record – the Red Wings – won’t be above .500 for too long.

For the sixth time in seven games, and fourth time at home, Toronto gave up the game’s first goal. Undoubtedly that excites neutral fans, but it is not a good formula for a club to follow when it aims to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup.

The Leafs’ three losses – one was in a shootout – have occurred against the three toughest opponents they have faced so far – Montreal, St. Louis and Tampa Bay. They have otherwise been fortunate to cough up early leads to undermanned teams without the talent or temerity to hold them.

“It hasn’t been great,” Auston Matthews said. “We have to be ready at the drop of the puck.”

It will prove to be more of a challenge as the opposition gets better. That starts with the Capitals in Washington on Wednesday and the Boston Bruins back on Bay Street on Saturday. Alexander Ovechkin and Brad Marchand will not go so easily into the night.

The Wild began the season 0-4 and were playing the second of back-to-back games. They looked tired and uninspired, even though they registered their first victory in Ottawa on Monday. The visitors did not take their first shot until 4:33 had elapsed in the first period, but scored on their second attempt when Luke Kunin beat Frederik Andersen from in close with 14:30 left in the first.

“We weren’t as good as we would like to be in the first,” Toronto head coach Mike Babcock said.

Devan Dubnyk, lit up in each of his first four starts, stopped all nine pucks Toronto directed at him in the opening period. He turned away William Nylander from only a few feet on the Maple Leafs’ best chance.

Toronto had only defeated Minnesota twice in the past 10 meetings but that was then and this is now. Dubnyk is struggling and the Wild’s venerable older players – Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Eric Staal and Ryan Suter – are beginning to look as if they have lost a step.

The Maple Leafs buried them beneath an avalanche of 19 shots in the second period. Four found the back of the net – a slap shot by John Tavares, power-play goals by Mitch Marner and Andreas Johnsson, and a tap-in by Matthews off a rush.

Dubnyk was as unlucky as he was inundated with frozen black discs. Johnsson batted his in after a shot caromed off the glass behind the net and bounced off Dubnyk right into the Swedish winger’s wheelhouse.

Morgan Rielly had secondary assists on each of the goals. The four assists tied a franchise record for one period. It had not been done since Rick Vaive set the mark on March 12, 1984.

“Anytime you are out there with him, he has the ability to find you if you get open,” Matthews said.

The four assists boosted Rielly’s total to nine in seven games. Marner was credited with assists on two of the goals, bringing him to six assists for the season.

Toronto’s power-play failed to take advantage when a slashing penalty was assessed on Suter only 35 seconds into the game. The Maple Leafs came in just 5 for 22 with a man (or two) advantage.

They rang up goals on their next two opportunities, however, and easily pulled away from there.

In Saturday’s victory over the Red Wings in Detroit, the Maple Leafs got goals from Nicholas Shore, Ilya Mikheyev, Alexander Kerfoot, Jake Muzzin and Trevor Moore. That means their last nine have been scored by nine different players.

That will help on days when the team’s big guns are shut down.

“To be a team that has success and wants to go where we want to get to, you need contributions from all parts of your lineup and you need to have depth,” Tavares, the captain, said following Tuesday morning’s skate. “When you have consistency throughout 60 minutes, when all four lines keep coming after you wave after wave, it’s a hard thing to defend and can really wear your opponent down.”

The Wild is the type of opponent a good team feasts on, and the Maple Leafs did not disappoint. They were only 1-2-1 at home before Tuesday night. It was starting to concern Babcock.

“We haven’t looked after home ice like you’d like to,” the head coach said earlier Tuesday. “You want to be automatic at home. You want the other team to know it is impossible to win in your building and that hasn’t been the case.”

That is no longer a worry, at least for one night.

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