The Detroit Red Wings laid siege to James Reimer and the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at the Air Canada Centre. The top line thoroughly dominated Toronto every shift they were on the ice, and it resulted in a combined three goals and five assists from the trio of Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, and Gustav Nyquist. Justin Abdelkader also contributed a goal and an assist.
Off a neutral zone faceoff, the Red Wings carried the puck through center. Nyquist got it at the far wing and fired a pass to the middle that tipped off Zetterberg's stick into the Maple Leafs' zone. Roman Polak had control of it but lost an edge when he got below his own goal line. Hank pounced on the turnover, curled along the corner and bottom of the circle, firing a bullet that the Mule re-directed past Reimer for a 1-0 lead.
The top line continued its offensive prowess in the second. An outlet pass from the Detroit zone got tipped high into the air across the Toronto blue line. The linesman signaled onside, and apparently only he and Zetterberg were the only people on the ice who had any idea where the puck was. Z took the puck to the net, Reimer bit on the initial play, and the bearded wonder fed a beautiful pass to Franzen who was trailing the play for a 2-0 lead. Oh was it beautiful.
Beautiful pass, beautiful beard, beautiful goal.
Nyquist would get the third goal for the Red Wings before the end of the second, ending his three-game streak of scoring Detroit's second goal of the game. Zetterberg picked another puck out of the air deep in the Toronto zone. Z found Nyquist streaking late into the slot, and a little skate to stick to net put the Red Wings up 3-0 going into the second intermission.
The Maple Leafs would not go away quietly. Detroit apparently missed the start of the third because a quick outlet up front found Leo Komarov streaking down the left side before feeding Mike Santorelli to get Toronto on the board early in the third.
Order would be restored, and the Red Wings would find their third period skating legs. Detroit would find its three-goal edge again. Dion Phaneuf turned the puck over in his own zone, and Zetterberg fired it deep into the zone on the backhand. A Toronto player tried to jump for it to glove it down, but it just bounced off the glove to Nyquist. A quick read of the ice and Nyquist would fire a pass into the crease that Abdelkader let deflect off his stick between Reimer's legs.
- If you're wondering why Abdelkader got the Red Wings' fourth goal of the game from Nyquist and Zetterberg, well . . .
Wings said Franzen won't return tonight due to lower-body injury.— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) October 18, 2014
- This is at least the second night I've seen a fan throw a jersey onto the ice this season, as there was another Toronto jersey thrown onto the ice during a third period Red Wings power play. Throwing the jersey away is losing its impact rapidly.
- Back to Red Wings things, special teams followed the prevailing narrative. The third period power play — which also featured a two-man advantage — gave some signs of hope, but failed zone entries and a lack of pressure on the opposing goal remain staples of the Detroit power play.
- Meanwhile, the penalty kill remains perfect on the season, though it took a bit more luck this time around. Toronto got lots of pressure on Howard, and some re-directs went wide instead of into the net. How long the kill can keep the opposition off the board remains to be seen if they allow teams to fire tons of shots rather than force them to play fetch in their own zone.
- Franzen's injury comes at an unfortunate time for him. The Mule was having a productive start to the season, so hopefully he won't be out long-term. Otherwise, an unfortunate injury — after a goal, of all times — halts a fast start for one of Detroit's top line players.
- Nyquist: four games, four goals.
- Henrik Zetterberg rebounded from Wednesday's 19% Corsi showing to put up four assists in this game. After having only one assist in the first three games, Z has made his presence felt on the scoresheet in this young season.
- The Kid Line of Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, and Tomas Jurco have yet to impact the scoresheet with the same punch that the top line did tonight, but boy did they have their chances to do so tonight. This line just seems to like playing Toronto and with each other.
- Kyle Quincey, ladies and gentlemen. I think he deserves a round of applause for the game he had tonight. The dude joined the offense at timely moments, and I have yet to have that "wut r u doin'?" moment with him this season. (I didn't see the Anaheim game.) I really hope this is a sign of him starting to play up to his contract.
- Jimmy Howard was stellar. He had to make a few grade AAA quality saves to preserve the Red Wings' lead, and he really followed through after his sterling performance against Boston. I think Tiberius is back.
Detroit has claimed three of four points against this week's Atlantic Division opponents and surrendered two. The Red Wings will try to go for points four and five of the week and six and seven on the season tomorrow against these same Maple Leafs. Jonas Gustavsson will hope to back stop the Red Wings to another victory against his former team.