Leafs’ Gardiner, Penguins’ Guentzel flash skill in summer league

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

A slew of NHL players returned to their home state of Minnesota to take part in some summer hockey for “Da Beauty League,” giving fans in the State of Hockey a taste of NHL action in the off-season.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel, and Arizona Coyotes centre Derek Stepan were among the players that suited up in the league, and all three made the most of their time back on the ice.

Gardiner, originally from Minnetonka, Minn., tallied one of the finest goals of the league’s season thus far, charging through the opposing blue-line on Monday to put the puck in the net.

Fresh off a breakout playoff run, Guentzel – whose father serves as an associate coach at the University of Minnesota – showed off his Sidney Crosby-esque touch, connecting with former AHL teammate Theodor Blueger to open the scoring for his squad.

And yet it may have been the new Coyotes pivot Derek Stepan, of Hastings, Minn., with the most feathery touch of the week, as the former New York Ranger showed off some veteran patience to pot one on Wednesday.

Da Beauty League has two more days of games, on Aug. 14 and 16, before it crowns a summer champion on Aug. 23.

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