Mantha for Hart: Red Wings 4, Leafs 5 (OT)

The Red Wings comeback falls just short, but Anthony Mantha dazzles on the national stage.


If you tuned in at 3:00 getting ready to see puck drop, you learned that the game has been delayed for a half-hour due to sun. (update: closer to an hour delay). In case you missed it, the Detroit alumni defeated the Toronto alumni yesterday in a nail-biter 4-3.

The game should see exciting, fast hockey from the young players on each side. On Detroit, you have Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, and Anthony Mantha. On the Toronto side, you have half their lineup.

While we waited, the league introduced 33 of the “Top 100 NHL Players,” which is part of the NHL’s centennial celebration. Sid Abel was the first player named, which was pretty cool. Alex Delvecchio, Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Terry Sawchuk, Glenn Hall, Red Kelly were other former Red Wings honored. During the All-Star weekend, the NHL will unveil the other 67, so make sure to mark it on your calendar so you can do something else.

If you are curious about the list, here you go:

Tomas Jurco is out with Riley Sheahan returning, and Ryan Sproul continues to ask himself if he should have focused more on hurting goaltenders.

First Period

After an interminable and terrible US anthem and a much better Canadian anthem, we get ready for puck drop.

Less than a minute in, Brendan Smith trips Nazem Kadri to keep him from blowing by him, and Toronto goes to the game’s first power play.

Frans Nielsen has a good shorthanded chance, but he just can’t turn the corner to break in on goal. The penalty expires.

One of the Wings’ major weaknesses this season has been losing puck battles. It looks like this could be a big problem today, as Toronto is winning most of the individual battles. With their skill, that could lead to an ugly result, quickly.

Off a faceoff, Nyquist sent a pass towards the net that Vanek deflected in on goal for the Wings’ best chance so far.

The Red Wings have a lot of trouble against high pressure. The Leafs put a lot of pressure on the puck. Not a good equation.

Pierre McGuire says that Babcock putting Matthews out against Zetterberg shows how much he values Matthews. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Mantha and Tatar break over the blue line on a 2 on 1. Mantha gets the puck to Tatar, but he fires it just wide. Shortly after, Mantha passes to Nick Jensen for another shot on goal. The problem is that this is probably after 8 minutes without Detroit having a good chance.

So far, the name of today’s game is fitting because this has definitely been “Classic” Detroit hockey from this season. They are getting hemmed in their zone and having trouble getting any type of flow.

Frans Nielsen just misses on a rebound in front of the net, and it sure looked like he was being held. Detroit finally gets some sustained offensive pressure. Not surprisingly, Thomas Vanek and Gustav Nyquist are involved as well.

The last five minutes of the period has been much better than the first 15. The team looks to have much more jump than when the game started.

Vanek to Nyquist next to the net should have led to a one goal lead, but Andersen made a fantastic save to keep the game scoreless.

The period ends 0-0. If Detroit plays like the did in the first 15 minutes, they’ll likely lose. If they play the way they did in the final five, they could win.

Second Period

During the break, the NHL targeted the youth audience by having Bryan Adams perform.

Nick Jensen draws a penalty from Nylander, and Detroit goes to their first power play. The Detroit power play is 1 for their last 33, which sounds like it can’t possibly be true, but it is.

It doesn’t get any better here, as the Wings spend approximately 20 seconds out of the two minute man advantage in the offensive zone.

Athanasiou’s speed leads to a scoring chance shortly after the penalty expires. Nyquist, Nielsen, and Vanek put high pressure on the Leafs.


Henrik Zetterberg steals the puck at the blue line and gets the puck over to Anthony Mantha. Mantha waits until Matthews is screening Andersen, and Mantha rips a shot past Andersen for the first goal of the game.

What a shot.

Connor Brown hooks Zetterberg just after for a second Detroit power play.

You know the drill. Still 1-0 after the penalty expires. The Leafs didn’t like the call, and it looks like Toronto could be getting frustrated.

Coreau stoned Tyler Bozak on a great chance in front, and Toronto is buzzing. Amazing that it’s happening against defensive specialists Drew Miller and Steve Ott.

After several minutes of Toronto pressure, they draw a penalty as Jensen goes off for holding.

A Leaf shot from Gardiner rang off the post after heavy, sustained pressure. The overhead camera was amazing to watch, but it made it hard to follow the players.

Fortunately, Toronto took a really bad penalty (bad on Toronto’s part) and the man advantage was nullified. Detroit really needs to stay out of the box because Toronto’s PP is very dangerous.

Speaking of dangerous, Detroit’s power play is not, and they go 0-3 in 2017 so far.

My wife is watching Spiderman 3 on her laptop, and I’m not sure if I’d rather watch that or two hours of Wings’ power plays.

Coreau continues to play very well. This is easily the best game he’s had so far in the NHL.

Xavier Ouellet with a big hit on Auston Matthews to keep him from deking past him.

At the other end, the Leafs ice the puck and Matt Martin finishes his check well after the whistle. The officials let it go and even it up on the ensuing play when Glendening hit a Toronto player from behind a few feet from the boards. Both of those plays should have been penalties, in my opinion.

The period ends with the score still 1-0.

Tweet of the period goes to:

Third Period

90 seconds in, Leo Komarov ties the game from the front of the goal. Jensen looked to be in good position, but Komarov just out-muscled him to deflect the centering pass by Coreau. Gardiner and Nylander with the assists.

Nikita Soshnikov lays a bad hit on Drew Miller. Miller’s back was to Soshnikov, and the Leaf player drove him into the boards. Steve Ott took exception and asked Matt Martin if he wanted to repeatedly punch him in the face. Martin gladly accepted. If you’ve ever seen Martin and Ott fight separately, you have a pretty good idea of how it went.

If you haven’t, it was the most dominant beating since Apollo Creed vs. Ivan Drago.

After the play, Ott did this in the box. I’m not really sure what he’s trying to do here:

My guess is: “That clip of you pounding my face is definitely on camera.”

The officials are completely losing control of this game. About 3 penalties each way go uncalled, and it’s getting increasingly chippy.

Mitch Marner makes it 2-1 Toronto. He comes out from the sidewall and beats both Jensen and Mantha. Coreau had no chance.

After that, the Matthews line had a dominant shift that culminated with Hyman feeding Brown from behind the net to increase the lead to 3-1.

Looks like punching a guy in the face is more inspiring than getting your face caved in.

After the Marner goal, Coreau seemed to completely become un-moored. He was all over the place, completely different from how he played up until that point.

And the game is all but over. The Wings get caught up ice and Matthews finishes a 3 on 1 to make the score 4-1.

Mantha to Ericsson, and the Wings are back within striking distance, as Ericsson rips a slapper past Andersen from the point. 4-2 Leafs.

Frans Nielsen had his stick break on a great set up in the slot.

Mantha gained the zone with pressure, Zetterberg kept the play alive, and Dylan Larkin makes it 4-3. Still 1:40 left, so the game is not over yet.

Brendan Smith nearly played the hero, taking a long stretch pass and leading the rush. His first shot was turned away, then he put another shot on goal that nearly got by Andersen.

Detroit gets another chance off the face off, but Toronto clears.



Anthony Mantha scores to tie the game with 1.4 seconds left.


Dekeyser gives up the puck and nearly leads to a goal. Smith gives up the puck, and Coreau makes an amazing save.

In between those things, Mantha made a smart play to hold onto the puck to complete the change rather than try to make a risky pass.

Nyquist comes in on goal, and it sure looked like he was held, but no call.

An odd-man rush for Detroit leads to a breakaway for Morgan Reilly, but Coreau keeps it out. Mantha and Larkin are all over the offensive zone for thirty seconds, but neither can score.

Auston Matthews ends an exciting overtime with an off-balance backhand from a carom off the boards.

I gotta say, the ending of the game and the overtime was some of the most exciting Red Wing hockey we’ve seen all season.

It was a good ending (other than losing) to a game that appeared to be heading down the drain.

Also, Anthony Mantha is amazing. Happy New Year everyone!