Detroit back home for a quick jaunt against the rich jerks from Ontario prior to their heading out for their Western Canadian road trip this coming week. The Leafs haven’t had much trouble scoring goals so far this season but have struggled preventing them. They’re coming into town angry off a big loss to the Lightning on Thursday and will be bringing plenty of fans with them.
Jeff Blashill’s one-man war on Canada enters game two as he starts his fourth consecutive period with Helm-JDLR-Abdelkader against a northern team. The shift goes ok for about 30 seconds before the Leafs start jamming the puck down Detroit’s throat. Fortunately they escape this and start fighting back thanks to some work by Tyler Bertuzzi and the fortunately-in-the-lineup Filip Hronek.
Attempt #2 by the Wings to match JDLR’s line against Matthews’ works waaaay better as de la Rose picks up a loose puck in front of Andersen and sweeps it under Andersen on the backhand to make it 1-0 Detroit.
Things pick up on the follow-up shift for both teams as the building is energized, but defenses remain tight for a spell. The next good Wings chance prior to the break is again by that checking line.
Things go back-and-forth for about four minutes with good tempo, but the Leafs tie it as Cholowski gets knocked off the puck in his own end and Nick Shore is the beneficiary of the pass to the net-front. 1-1 game.
The next good scoring chance has to be stopped by Howard as Hronek gets caught up ice and leaves a 2-on-1 rush.
The top line creates some nice looking rush chances, but no-go on those and a high-sticked puck brings up a neutral zone faceoff. On that entry by the Wings, AA heads to the box for skating into Andersen, giving Toronto’s PP its first chance of the night. The first chance on this PP goes to Luke Glendening, who takes advantage of William Nylander falling over to create an odd-man. Andersen stops the shot and the rebound attempt by Ehn. Shortly after the penalty expires, Howard has to make his hardest save of the night.
Detroit goes shorthanded again as Kapanen tries to cross to the middle of the Wings’ zone, gets checked, and somehow it’s a penalty. No harm done on the soft call though as the Wings’ forwards and Danny DeKeyser do some good work for the next two minutes preventing any dangerous Leafs chances.
The period ends with the Wings outshot but plenty of good chances to show for it.
The Score: 1-1
The Shots: 12-9 Leafs
Standout Players: Danny DeKeyser, Justin Abdelkader, Anthony Mantha
The Period all Summed up: Take fewer penalties
Five! Five in a row!
We get reminded early in the period by Mick that Blashill jumbled the lines on the vey last shift of the first, playing switching Mantha and AA on their lines. Before that first shift is over with the JDLR line, Tyson Barrie heads to the box for cross-checking Abdelkader. Wings to the PP. Sadly Detroit gets nothing done against good pressure by the PK. It’s not a terrible-looking PP but they just can’t get it done.
It takes until five minutes into the period for things to settle and for us to see that Mantha is back with his usual linemates. He so enjoys being out there that he stays out for a pretty long shift and ends up finishing with two new linemates and a good semi-breakaway chance that Andersen turns aside.
From the break, Toronto starts tilting the ice a bit, forcing good defensive plays by Mike Green, Mantha, and Dylan Larkin to keep the game knotted.
Mantha makes a really nice bank pass to himself off the boards to create a Wings chance, but the game generally remains one where the Wings are creating looks on the rush while the Leafs are doing so on the cycle.
The next real dangerous flurry comes with about 3:30 left in the period off another Cholowski turnover that gets the defense swimming and Howard dancing around, also wastes another Larkin line shift.
The Wings try to escape the period without giving up a goal, but fail. DeKeyser gets a shot attempt from between the circles, but neither he nor Bowey can get back on time to stop Ilya Mikheyev from chasing down a loose puck. Howard comes out to help, but he’s also beaten to the puck and gives up the open net. 2-1 Leafs on the Mikheyev goal.
The Score: 2-1 Leafs
The Shots: 24-17 Leafs
Standout Players: Justin Abdelkader, Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin
The Period all Summed up: Too much reaching for the puck.
Six-for-six on the JDLR line starting. Jeff Blashill reopening the War of 1812 over here.
Morgan Rielly gets the first good chance of the period as he walks from the point around Abdelkader and across the crease before losing it off the end of his stick. The follow-on to begin the period isn’t really confidence-inducing either. Last year’s team definitely fades from this point. I’m not rewriting this sentence no matter what happens from here. I want to see what happens.
The early part of what happens is Glendening hitting Auston Matthews and Abdelkader plastering Sandin in pretty much the same spot along the half-wall in the Detroit end. They’re good hits.
The next time Detroit enters the zone, they do it with four men wide and end up taking the puck to the side boards and eventually trying one of those high-percentage point-shot wristers. I’m getting grumpy.
Not helping things now, as AA loses an in-zone faceoff and Kerfoot picks up the rebound on a sharp-angle wrister to slide it into the net and make it 3-1 Leafs.
Thankfully, it takes just 24 seconds to get back to down-by-one. Jacob de la Rose does good work behind the net to free it to Abdelkader, who feeds Helm out front for the snapshot over the glove to make it 3-2.
Mantha gets two shots to tie it mere seconds later, has one stopped by Matthews and hits iron with the second. Things come off the rails for defense from this point. Jimmy Howard nearly pulls MY groin reaching his leg out to stop a cross-crease feed from the Leafs.
Wide-open play continues but the Wings don’t get another dangerous look before Jake Muzzin makes it 4-2 on a royal road pass from Timashov.
The comeback attempt gets even harder on a late third period penalty to DeKeyser for interference. It’s.... certainly a call by the refs.
Wings kill this one off with little problem, but come out of it with just three minutes to make up a two-goal deficit. Less than a minute later, Trevor Moore makes it 5-2 with an empty-netter.
The Score: 5-2 Leafs
The Shots: 41-27 Toronto
Standout Players: Jacob de la Rose
The Period all Summed up: They faded.
Not the best game for Dennis Cholowski or Taro Hirose. Athanasiou looked off as well.
The FS-D crew tried hard to spin this as a loss that wasn’t as lopsided as the score, but I don’t think so. The Wings’ most dangerous chances came on counterattacking rushes, but they absolutely chased the rubber most of the night and that’s not a good way to win. This one wasn’t an “ah well” loss to me so much as an “oh no.” I mean, on the sale, it’s not an “oh shit” loss, but I don’t feel good after this one like I did with the Ducks loss.
We’ll see how they respond in Vancouver on Tuesday night.