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Toronto’s Rookies are Good: Wings 4, Leafs 5

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NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

Toronto comes to the Joe for the last time on the day that half the internet tries in vain to show how funny they are by fooling people. I promise that this recap will contain zero April Fool’s jokes.

I won’t tell you that I’m pregnant, or I’m moving to Ecuador, or Riley Sheahan will 100% score tonight.

While I hope that the Wings play an entertaining game and take advantage of a young Toronto team experiencing pressure to make the playoffs, most of us are going into this game with more realistic expectations.

Why?

First Period

Helm and Nielsen get the game’s first two shots on the first shift. That line has jump to start the game.

Matthews and Nylander are on a line together, which doesn’t seem fair. Matthews lifts the puck to himself to escape the zone, then gets it to Nylander for a dangerous chance.

Green keeps the puck in the zone and passes to a wide-open Drew Miller. You already know if he scored or not.

Frederick Andersen makes a ridiculous lob pass to Connor Brown at the Detroit blue line. I had to double check to make sure it was the goalie who passed it, but yep.

The Wings’ top line has been very strong through their first few shifts. They came close to scoring several times, and the most recent time, Jeff Blashill got that line out against the Leafs’ fourth line.

Keep an eye on Kadri and Helm. They have each laid big hits on each other through the first half of the first period.

Tyler Bozak gets a stick up in Jensen’s face, and Detroit goes to their first power play. It’s a double minor, which means twice the frustration when they don’t score.

Zetterberg shows his superhuman ability, nearly setting up a pp goal twice before Nyquist breaks Reilly’s stick with a slash. Reilly is lucky because Nyquist missed his eye by only 40 inches.

Neither team scores on the 4 on 4, and Detroit gets the last 40 seconds of their original power play. Nothing doing, but they had some good looks and a little sustained zone time.

With 5:10 left in the period, THE GOOSE IS LOOSE!

Nielsen enters the zone and pushes the defense back. He drops it to Nyquist who puts it past Andersen to make it 1-0. It looks like it might have hit Tatar, so we’ll keep an eye out for a scoring change. As of now, Jensen has the second assist.

Larkin chips the puck past his man and tries to go around him, but he is interfered with. This is somehow not a penalty.

The period ends 1-0, and so far Detroit is holding their own.

I don’t want to get too cocky, but so far this game is:

Second Period

Riley Sheahan nearly scores right at the beginning of the period. Andersen misplayed the puck behind his net, and Helm threw it to the front. Sheahan nearly had a tap-in, but Kadri tipped the puck away.

Kronwall can’t keep up with Hyman and gets busted for hooking.

Auston Matthews is very good. He gives it to Komarov at the blue line and receives a return pass after blowing by the defense. He gets the puck off his stick quickly and sneaks it past Howard near post.

Riley Sheahan will never score again. It is clear that he accidentally desecrated a Native American burial site or fed a Gremlin after midnight or something.

Athanasiou gets hit in the face by Carrick’s stick and slowly leaves the ice. It looked to be a follow through, which negates a penalty. Mitch Marner breaks into the zone and makes it 2-1.

William Nylander makes it 3-1 a few minutes later. Kronwall backs up on Nylander and gives the rookie enough time to shoot it past Howard.

Meanwhile, the official Detroit Red Wings twitter account is being run by someone who has been asleep the last month or so.

I guess hockey isn’t for everyone outside of February, eh?

Nick Jensen makes it 3-2 a few minutes after the Nylander goal, as he puts his own rebound past Andersen.

Babcock challenges the goal for goaltender interference on Nyquist. The play stands, and the score remains 3-2.

As of the last minute of the second period, Athanasiou has still not returned.

The second period ends with the score 3-2 Toronto. The Wings were playing fairly well for the first half of the game, then it felt like:

Third Period

Near the end of the second period, Kadri hit Nielsen, causing the Dane to look to be in discomfort at the bench. Kadri’s gotten away with a few plays that looked to be illegal, but I think I figured out the reason:

Athanasiou is back in the game, wearing a shield. It was described on the Canadian broadcast as a face-mask, which made me think of a Bane-type mask.

We have an octopus sighting, with a rather large specimen gracing the ice near the Toronto end.

Toronto seems fine with just running time off the clock, which makes sense for them.

Turns out that Kadri’s permit expired, and he is whistled for taking down Drew Miller. Detroit goes to the power play with just under ten minutes left in the game.

The Wings get some chances, but can’t tie the game. Kronwall nearly lost a footrace for a cleared puck when he had a 30 foot head start, so that was fun.

The fun actually turns fun when Kronwall ties the game!

Tatar and Nyquist took turns putting traffic in front of Andersen. Zetterberg found Kronwall with a cross-crease feed that should look familar to players of EA’s NHL video games. 3-3.

Ah, shit. Kadri re-directs a pass towards the net to van Riemsdyk, who puts it past Howard.

Then Matthews scores nearly immediately after to make it 5-3.

With Howard pulled, Green scores to make it 5-4! The goals are coming fate and furious. I mean fast and furious.

Detroit can’t tie it up, and the game ends 5-4 Toronto.

This summarizes both teams’ defensive play tonight: