In a game that had the energy and play of a regular season game rather than a preseason game, the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-4. The Joe was seemingly split in support of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs and the crowd got a great, action-packed game as the preseason begins to wrap up.
The Leafs scored the first three goals before surrendering one to the Red Wings in the 2nd period. Viktor Stahlberg scored twice in the opening period of play and 1st round pick Nazem Kadri scored the Leafs' third goal halfway through the second period. The Red Wings were unable to solve Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson during his one period of play but Niklas Kronwall put the Red Wings on the board at 14:53 of the second period, beating replacement Vesa Toskala.
The third period was a wild one as Kronwall tallied his second goal of the night, assists going to Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, on a shot from the point that weaved its way through the mass of bodies in front of Toskala. Franzen would score two goals of his own during the third period to tie the game. The first came on the powerplay as the ever patient Datsyuk waited for the Toronto defenders to split before passing the puck across the slot to a wide open Franzen. Toskala was down on the ice and had only the option of throwing a leg up to stop Franzen's shot but the effort was not enough as Franzen tied the game 3-3 at 11:55 of the 3rd period.
Before the Red Wings fans could finish celebrating the game tying goal, Franzen put the Wings ahead only 14 seconds after his last goal. Franzen collected the puck behind Toskala's net on a turnover and skated out front, waiting for Toskala to make the move before firing the puck off the far side post for a 4-3 Red Wings lead with under 8 minutes to play.
With 90 seconds left to play and Toskala headed to the bench, it seemed Detroit would just have to survive the onslaught for the win. The onslaught didn't need to last too long as Mikhail Grabovski blazed a loose puck past Chris Osgood to tie the game with 1:11 to play in the game. After a few last chance efforts in regulation and a few good chances in the overtime period, the game headed to the shootout. The first Maple Leafs shooter converted and Datsyuk and Franzen missed their shots before Dan Cleary tied the shootout, forcing extra rounds. John Mitchell scored on Osgood to seal the win for the Maple Leafs 5-4.
Detroit and Toronoto square off for another game in Toronto on Saturday at 7 p.m. The game will air on CBC.
Check after the jump for some of the thing I noticed in the game.
- Valtteri Filppula is skating very confidently with the puck and this could be leaps and bounds for a guy who often was quick to give up the puck intead of carry it into the zone himself last year.
- Brad May, all 38 years of him, has shown some great energy in trying to make the Red Wings team. In all liklihood there's probably just not enough enough space for him on the team but he dropped the gloves and threw some big hits on there tonight.
- Johan Franzen has becoming a shooting machine (and why not?) as he totalled 7 shots on net.
- Jonathan Ericsson took some bad penalties (some bad calls, some bad plays) tonight. I won't get on him too much because it's the preseason but if the PK is as bad this year as it was last year, the Wings can't afford that many opportunities for the opponents.
- Not a Wing but Nazem Kadri looks impressive. He shows why he was worth an early first round pick because of his skating, leadership, and puck play.
- Pavel Datsyuk is a puckhandling nightmare for opponents. Its hard to put that into statistic terms but he was incredible with the puck at times tonight and looks to be back in top form--hopefully.