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The Good, The Bad, The Kid: Larkin Wins it in OT in an Absolute Thriller in Toronto

From 4-1 up, to tied at 4, this game had everything. But Dylan Larkin had enough of it, and ended it in overtime as the Wings beat the Leafs 5-4

Detroit Red Wings v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

This is it. The moment, the game, that every hockey fan has been waiting for. Almost everyone around the league has been waiting for this player to make his season debut, and now it’s finally upon us after nearly two months of waiting. Wait, Brian Lashoff is a healthy scratch tonight? $%@! Oh well. Oh right, some dude named Nylander makes his season debut tonight for Toronto too. It’s an Original Six matchup at the Air Canada Cen... er... Scotiabank Arena, the first of the year in Toronto between these two. And with all of the Red Wings injuries, and the return of William Nylander for the Leafs, all we can do is hope this is a good one. For my gambling folks out there, the Leafs closed up right around -320, which means Vegas expects this to get out of hand. But, hey, that’s what you play the game! Here we go and here’s to hope!

1st Period

Sparks vs. Bernier. LGD vs. Tavares. Off we go. Nylander gets a loud applause as he touches the puck on his first shift. 3 minutes in, not much to this one, not even a shot on the board. First chance comes from the Leafs as Marner sends one to the cage and it falls down for Zach Hyman who knocked it down and shot if off the side of the goal. Bam. The man who got bumped out of the Top 6 for Nylander buries one for Toronto. Kasperi Kapanen scores, after a beautiful tic-tac-toe from Johnsson and Gardiner. 1-0 Leafs. HOLY MOLY WE’RE TIED. Jonathan Ericsson (no, not a typo) rips from the point and that puck had eyes. 1-1. This seems like the perfect time to mention the Leafs are 14-0 when scoring first. THEY SCORE AGAIN! It’s Luke Glendening!! Kronwall and De La Rose set up a wide open LGD in front of Sparks who buried it! 2-1 Detroit. 2 goals on 2 shots. Abdelkader off with a holding penalty as we hit the 1st TV timeout.

Leafs PP now, this should be fun. A minute in, and the Red Wings PK unit has actually had more offensive zone time than the Leafs. Couple of chances by the Leafs after I typed that, but none of them Grade-A. Back to 5-on-5. Leafs with a few more shots, but most going right into Bernier, including Marner dropping one for Tavares who put it right into JB45’s logo. 2nd TV timeout.

Leafs 2nd line of Hyman-Tavares-Marner causing chaos in the Wings end once again. A couple of chances in front of Bernier, but no dice. Nyquist answers with a chance in the Leafs end, as he let a wrister go from the dot that was knocked down for Megan who almost hammered home the rebound, but Sparks was able to fall on it in time. Leafs continue to look sluggish and the Wings aren’t backing down. Final TV timeout of the 1st Period.

Leafs humming right out of the break. Kapanen with two good-looking shots, than Kadri rang one of the bar on a short-angle chance, still 2-1 Wings. Tavares tries to enter the zone and undress Nick Jensen, but #3 wasn’t fooled and stood him up nicely. Now Matthews tries to go after Jensen too, he toe drags to the middle of the zone and Jensen gets called for tripping after Matthews stepped right on Jensen’s stick. Leafs 2nd PP. Again, nothing doing for the Leafs PP after another really solid PK by the Wings. Wings dictating tempo and get a delayed call and WHAMMY! Larkin goes cross-ice and Nyquist goes top cheddar with an absolute snipe! 3-1 Detroit! I don’t believe what I’m watching. End of 1.

Score: 3-1 DET

Shots: 11-10 DET

2nd Period

2 minutes in and AA with a typical AA chance. He out-skated Hainsey on the far wing, cut to the net and tried to go far post, but Sparks did a good job keeping the pad down to keep it out. Leafs still not looking great here, but this thing is far from over with how much talent they have. Wings all over the Leafs again. Nyquist and Larkin maintaining possession in the Toronto end and Detroit is outshooting them 4-1 in this period so far. Leafs have awoken now. Both Marner and Hainsey with wide open wrist shots in the slot area, neither ended up testing Bernier. Somehow, with the Wings on their heels, the Wings draw a penalty as Jensen was tripped. Wings 1st PP of the night coming up after the 1st TV timeout.

Wings PP looks not good early as they haven’t been able to get set up yet 90 seconds in and were also a bouncing puck away from a Hyman breakaway going the other way. Mike Green with two quality looks from the point, but both miss the net. YET THE THIRD TIME IS THE CHARM! Mike Green from the point after the PP expires!! 4-1 Red Wings!! 7:39 to go in the 2nd, all Detroit. 2nd TV timeout.

Kronwall absolutely hammered Matthews into the boards. Honestly it looked clean to me as Matthews was off-balance, it wasn’t from behind, and Kronwall caught him awkwardly. Aftermath of it it all is Kronwall gets a penalty, and Matthews gets up slowly. Wings PK again just all over the Leafs and kill it off with ease. Leafs looking dangerous at 5-on-5 now as the puck hasn’t left the zone. Bernier absolutely robbed Kadri at the back post while sprawling across the crease. AND AGAIN. Toronto has Detroit on their heels and take ANOTHER penalty. Final TV timeout.

Both teams power plays looking very not good so far tonight. Wings again couldn’t get set up and didn’t even generate a shot on the PP. They are outshooting Toronto 11-3 in this period though. Wings take a bad penalty with 41 seconds left in the period after Kronwall held on to Nylander on a rush down ice in the Wings end. Wings survive the period, and take a 4-1 lead to the break. 19 blocked shots after 2 as well a big part of this one. But still, can’t imagine anyone saw this coming.

Score: 4-1 DET

Shots: 23-15 DET

3rd Period

3rd Period. Let’s do this. 1:19 to kill off the Kronwall penalty. Also, did I mention the Leafs were 14-0 this year when scoring first? Pretty neat. Wings 4-4 on the PK now as the Leafs still don’t get many great chances on the PP. Leafs have a bit more jump in their step to start the 3rd. Have to wonder what Babs said in between periods, I’m sure it was nice. Uh oh. Johnny T was left open in the slot and he rips one short-side, top corner. 4-2 Wings now. Buckle up folks, still 17 to go. Leafs are definitely awake now, this is bad. 2nd line again being dangerous. Marner circled the goal, left one in front for Hyman who was stopped by Bernier, then Tavares missed the net on the rebound. Did I mention this is bad? 6-0 shots in the 3rd in favor of the Leafs and we’re just 5 minutes in. Wings answered the past few minutes and again Larkin and Nyquist giving the Wings life. 1st TV timeout.

Oh crap. 4-3. Marner again led the rush, pulled up in the zone, dropped it to Ozhiganov who slap-passed it in front to a wide-open Hyman who put it in easily. Timeout Blashill, and he’s visibly angry on the bench, maybe more so then I’ve ever seen. 11 minutes to go. Hang on, folks. Marner, JT and Hyman just don’t leave the ice it feels like, and they’ve been everywhere when out there. Shots all even at 26 now too. And now it’s tied.... Matthews wrist shot caught the boards behind Bernier, bounced to the side of the cage, and Andreas Johnsson punched it home short-side. 4-4 and I am unhappy. 2nd TV timeout. Sighhhhh.

All Leafs again out of the break. Wings have played like they’ve been a man down pretty much the whole period. Wings woke up a little bit thanks to AA, but Sparks has been much better since the 1st. Final TV timeout. 4:54 to go. It’s tied.

Back-and-forth the teams go now, but the Leafs clearly are playing better and have all the momentum with 2 minutes left in the 3rd period. Icing to the Leafs with 1:48 left, so maybe a chance for the Wings here? It wasn’t. Marner turned and fired one on Bernier through traffic who wasn’t even close to expecting it, but somehow held on to it. Johnsson was almost in on a breakaway and Bernier came up with the save. JENSEN HIT BOTH POSTS WITH 10 SECONDS LEFT. Oh man oh man oh man!!! Overtime....

Score: 4-4

Shots: 30-30 (TOR 15-7 in 3rd)


Frantic start to OT as both teams had looks in the opposing zone off odd-man chances. AA TO LARKIN ALMOST ENDED IT. AA used that speed, streaked down the far-side, toe-dragged to the backhand and sent it across to Larkin who was robbed by Sparks. Cholowski with a great defensive play to stop Matthews who tried to do a 360 1-on-1 vs. the rookie. Marleau with a half-breakaway was stopped by Bernier. DYLAN FREAKIN’ LARKIN WINS IT IN OVERTIME ON THE BREAKAWAY!!!!!!!!!!!! He started the play by knocking it off Tavares’ stick in the defensive zone, the puck found Nyquist who hit him with the home run pass before the future captain of the Wings buried one five-hole on Sparks. RED WINGS WIN!!!

Score: 5-4 DET

Shots: 32-31 DET

Box Score