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Wings fall into a gutter with Leafs, can’t climb out: Toronto wins 5-3

Wings late charge not enough, falter to red-hot Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs

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

Two things I am really looking forward to going into tonight as I write this before the game. 1. The Leafs offense is on another planet and Auston Matthews is by far my favorite to win MVP this year. 2. Can’t wait to see the black seats not really help things as the organization continues to ignore the real problem of them putting club seats at center ice, but hey, why change that? Let’s go!

1st Period

It’s Howie vs. Freddie. Matthews line vs. Larkin line. And we’re off. Literally 6 seconds in Matthews has an open look at a wrister that he rifled past Howard. Holy moly. Larkin follows up 35 seconds in with a chance in the slot and he too sent it to the glass. This game may be awesome. Larkin and Mantha continue to show they’re the best on the Wings as a nice feed from D-Boss in the high slot gave Mantha a chance, but it was right into Freddie Andersen. Nazem Kadri continues to show he’s a big time whiner as he goes after Tyler Bertuzzi. Bert wanted to go, Kadri says no, and he got the penalty anyways for slashing. Haha. A nice looking PP for the Red Wings, but they couldn’t find a great shot chance and it ends with no goal. BANG! A bad break in the Detroit zone leads to a 4-on-1 and Helm finds a wide open Jensen trailing and he snaps one home from the slot. 1-0 Detroit. And right off the draw Kapanen has a chance, but gets interfered with so PP coming out of the 1st TV timeout.

So the Leafs had 3 shots on the PP, but Wings PK did a really good job shutting them down. However, I wouldn’t recommend giving that PP many more chances. Leivo and Dekeyser now get into it at center ice. Pretty lame fight as they hugged each other for a while before Leivo put him down. Seen much better, moving on. Athanasiou with a dangle of all-time at the blue to get him to the goal before leaving the puck to Nyquist who (shockingly) couldn’t handle it, Wings showing life however. 2nd TV timeout.

Things have tightened up a bit, which is disappointing, because I expected this to be a shootout, but wow, Dylan Larkin is putting on a clinic. A great back check at one end, coast-to-coast leaving Mantha with a chance at the other. He continues to impress. And just like that an odd man rush leads to Marner setting up a bullet from Morgan Reilly. 1-1. Again, the 1st line is the only thing working for this team as they get a couple chances, but no dice. Final TV timeout.

Last 3 minutes of the period out of the timeout. Holy moly an unreal give-and-go from AA to Vanek back to AA and Freddie Andersen absolutely stones him cold at the side of the net. Wow, what a chance, but what an even better save. That’ll do it for the 1st, fun game so far. Tied at 1.

Score: 1-1

Shots: 11-6 TOR

2nd Period

Line juggling already. Bert up on the top line replacing Abby. Side note: I feel like the wing on this line will change a lot this year. Again they control the play, but still no luck. Hronek with a great defensive play on Matthews to cut him off as he tried to cut to the net. Leafs dominating early and they score. Hyman to Marner who has a wide open net and doesn’t miss. This teams offense is a juggernaut. 2-1 Leafs. Red Wings answer nicely after, chances from Nyquist, Hicketts, Sulak and Athanasiou, but still can’t find the back of the net. Ehn with a great play in the defensive zone to prevent a goal from Leivo, but if the Wings don’t score soon, this could get out of hand. Wings play is spiraling now, as a chance for the Leafs in front led to an obvious trip by Sulak. Leafs PP coming up. 1st TV timeout.

Alright, buckle up. And just like that, guess who? Auston Matthews #8 on the year. 3-1 Leafs. Nyquist actually with a nice shift after that, draws a penalty from Matthews. Haha he’s not that great! (regrets that statement immediately after he scores again soon). Wings PP, need one here. And Wings PP looks like last year, if not worse, didn’t get set up once. This is bad. Tavares and Matthews on a 3-on-1 is probably what you don’t want after the PP as Matthews almost had #9 but a great job to get a stick in the lane by Jensen keeps it 3-1. 2nd TV timeout.

Ah, nice fun fact. Morgan Reilly has 12 points which is the most by a D-man through their first 5 games (passing Bobby Orr) in the last 100 years. Neat. Wings get a little more zone time out of the timeout, but again can’t get pucks on net. Just 10 shots with 6 minutes left in 2nd. Final TV timeout.

Team is now 9+ minutes from their last shot on goal. Wings pick up a delayed penalty as again they just look awful. Kadri ripped one from the slot that hit the cross bar during the delay. Leafs PP now. Yay! Matthews gave Tavares an unreal chance in front, but Jimmy Howard, who has been awesome all game, robbed him blind. Have I mentioned the Leafs offense is good yet? That does it for the 2nd thankfully, this is bad. 3-1 Leafs.

Score: 3-1 TOR

Shots: 26-11 TOR

3rd Period

Larkin continues to be by far the best Red Wing on the ice game in and game out. Helps set up a good zone cycle, but still they just can’t get pucks on net. Athanasiou again just can’t buy a goal. A race for a bouncing puck and he made Gardiner look silly at the blue line, Gardiner absolutely slashed AA from behind as he just couldn’t finish it off at the net. Bad no call. Wings offense with a bit more life in the 3rd, already 4 shots, 4 minutes in. Oh you have got to be kidding me. Larkin with an unreal feed to spring a Vanek breakaway, he hits the post. Larkin picked up the rebound, also hit the post. Andersen covered it after that. This is just going to be a long year, isn’t it? Wings are looking better though, need a quick one out of the first TV timeout.

Tavares with a great chance in the slot, first real chance of the period for the Leafs, and Jimmy stood tall once more. Leafs starting to tighten this one up knowing it’s pretty much over. I hate saying that in a 2-goal game, but it sure feels that way. More line juggling and it pays off! Mantha-LGD-AA have been a spark in the 3rd and Jensen cleans up a rebound to make it 3-2 Leafs! Wonder if Jensen is ticked that these kids have taken his ice time? 2nd TV timeout, here we go.

And the Leafs have awoken. Another bad penalty on an odd man rush and again Tavares almost scored (he will on this next PP I’m sure). Nope, it’s Matthews again. #9. 1 goal from tying the record for most goals through a player’s first 6 games (he’s only playing in 5 tonight). This man is not fair. Delayed penalty to Toronto now as guess who drew it? D-Boss. Need one here if that wasn’t obvious. Larkin almost set up Bertuzzi for a goal on the PP, but it got deflected out of play by the great back check of Connor Brown. No luck on the PP.... again. BUT WAIT! Larkin sends one towards the goal and it looks like Bert put it in! I saw it, the ref didn’t, and we go to review. And uh oh, I don’t know now, Freddie Andersen may have just committed highway robbery at the goal line. NOPE, GOOD GOAL! 4-3 Leafs. It’ll be Bert. Crowd coming alive now. Final TV timeout. 5:40 to go. Aye yai yai.

So they gave the goal to Larkin right now, I don’t know. Bert may have touched it, may have not. Who cares. 4-3. Now Jensen just missed the hat trick by inches trying to snipe Andersen top corner with bodies in front. Offsetting penalties to Abby and Marincin so we go 4-on-4 with 4 minutes to go. Sulak with a cannon that is saved by Andersen. Sulak AGAIN saved by Andersen from the point after Larkin does all the work. Back to 5-on-5. Vanek now sets up Nyquist who couldn’t put it in short side on the backhand, Howie out, 1:30 to go. Timeout Detroit, offensive zone faceoff now, 1:21 left.

Larkin wins the draw vs. Matthews but a shot gets blocked and it’s out to center. Vanek had a chance from the circle, he was slashed and couldn’t get enough on it, no call. Back comes AA. Vanek gets it, almost wraps it around, he’s robbed. 30 seconds. And a clearing attempt from behind the Leafs net by Ron Hainsey goes all the way in..... Unbelievable. 5-3 Leafs. Game.

Score: 5-3 TOR

Shots: 35-29 TOR

Link to box score