Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings faced off Saturday night. The Maple Leafs and Red Wings have a long standing rivalry and a respectful hate for each other. Both teams were part of the original six of the NHL in 1942. Toronto has not had the start to the season they were looking for. They did pick up a win last game against Chicago which snapped their 4 game losing streak. The Red Wings on the other hand are having an overall good start to their year. They come in to this game having just lost to the unbeaten Florida Panthers in overtime the night before. Detroit is without their top scorer Tyler Bertuzzi as he is still unvaccinated and can’t cross the border for the games in Canada. Both of these teams look to make a statement against their rival.
Toronto appeared to enter with a little confidence going, but so did Detroit. As this was their first meeting since December 21st, 2019, it was clear the first part of the game was feeling each other out. Not a lot of explosive plays or chances, just a bit of back and forth, hard checking hockey. Both defenses held their lines and made things difficult for their opponents. Towards the end of the first both offenses seemed to pick up the pace a little. Toronto got the first of the night as Jake Muzzin flicked a wrister past Thomas Greiss with just seconds left in the period.
For the second period it was much of the same. Toronto did show a little bit more aggression and held things in their offensive zone and had a lot of momentum. This momentum shifted quickly though as the Red Wings went on the power play and capitalized during it. Filip Zadina fired a shot from the hash marks past his former teammate Petr Mrazek. Toronto once again resumed control and showed great presence in their offensive zone. Michael Bunting got Toronto their lead back while on the power play. Just like the first period, this goal came with under 20 seconds left in the period.
A crazy third period then ensued. Alex Kerfoot buried a lovely feed from John Tavares just 17 seconds into the period. But Detroit bounced back real quick with a goal just over a minute later. Michael Rasmussen fed a charging Joe Veleno who flicked it past Mrazek. After killing a penalty, Toronto looked to get their two goal lead back. Kerfoot and Tavares got a nice break away and played a little tic tac before Tavares fired it into the back of the net.
Now leading 4-2, the Leafs just looked to finish the game. Vladislav Namestnikov had different ideas, nudging home the puck after finding it against Mrazeks pads. With 9 minutes left the game was back to being just a one goal difference. With two minutes left Greiss played the puck behind the net and a quick turnover resulted in Mitch Marner picking up his first of the season. They felt as though it may be over, but Filip Hronek of the Red Wings made it a one goal game again with under a minute to spare. Detroit showed no quit, even to the last second as the tried to slam one in as the horn sounded. Maple Leafs win 5-4.
Toronto showed some great pace and drive. They definitely were happy to have Mrazek back and to see him finish a full game. His unfortunate injury in his first game of the year has kept him off the ice until now. This looks like a nice step in the right direction for them. Getting a talented goaltender like Mrazek healthy, and Marner picking up his first goal of the season, things look a lot better than they did a week ago. Winning faceoffs by an overwhelming percentage really helps highlight that the Leafs controlled the game. Even with that, they allowed 4 goals and are left wondering what they need to do on defense. Fortunately they had their offense rolling though and were able to win this goal fest. They now have a few days to rest at home before hosting the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.
Detroit came in after a tight overtime game the night before and didn’t show major signs of tired legs. They were aggressive on defense which burned them a couple times, but even without appearing to control or create long offensive zone times, they found a way to make it just a one goal game. Detroit’s biggest asset right now has to be their rookies productions. Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond are now tied at 8 points for the most by a rookie in the NHL right now. Having a young core who is producing is a great sign for the future. For the now, Detroit has proven they can be competitive. They fought back against two great teams in consecutive nights. Every game is fought to the end by them. Their next game is a visit to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.
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