Maples Leafs place Andersen on IR, Sparks also hurt

New No. 3 goalie Michael Hutchinson living out ‘childhood dream’ after trade to the Maple Leafs

"It's been a good progression over the last few days and obviously going through a full practice pretty much today, I'm feeling pretty good so definitely positive about it".

Andersen made it sound like he probably would not be in goal against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena.

Since his arrival in Toronto in 2016, no National Hockey League goalie has started more games, faced more shots or made more saves than Andersen, who is feeling the benefits of what will now be 16 days (minimum) of mid-season rest and was encouraged by Friday's return to the team skate.

The Leafs also confirmed that Garret Sparks has been diagnosed with a concussion after taking a shot off the head in practice on Wednesday.

To pad their goalie roster, the Maple Leafs recalled Michael Hutchinson and Kasimir Kaskisuo from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.

Is acquiring another goalie a priority, considering Sparks' injury?

"You've got to learn how to win all kinds of games", Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "You'd like to have a tree in your backyard and just be able to pick 'em off. We'll see what happens".

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Leafs No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen (groin) returned to practice Friday for the first time since December 27, but isn't healthy enough to play, while backup Garret Sparks, who suffered a concussion during Wednesday's on-ice session, is also out.

"It was not just an incident, it was slowly (getting worse)", Andersen said.

"The Christmas break didn't respond the way we hoped", said the 29-year-old. "Obviously you want to be closer to your full potential and feeling as close to 100 percent as possible to be playing on the top of your level like the first two months of the season for me personally".

As the season goes along there will be many storylines to follow like whether William Nylander gets back on track and whether the team makes a deal at the deadline for a defenceman.

Zach Parise scored the victor and Devan Dubnyk made 38 saves as the Minnesota Wild fought back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to down the Leafs 4-3 in a rare weekday afternoon game. "It's something that you just have to embrace".

Hutchinson said he would be less nervous in anticipating starting on Saturday than he was in his Leafs debut versus the Wild. "You have to make sure you do your rehab the right way and eventually you'll be fine", Andersen said. "It was really exciting to get my first game under me, but it also makes you hungry to get more and to get the first win and go from there".

You just can't make some stuff up. The Leafs pulled Hutchinson with 2:45 left, but were unable to get anything past the Wild netminder, including a chance that dribbled off the post in the dying seconds.

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