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Red Wings Come Up Short Against Leafs in Sweden

a blue and yellow flag flying over a body of water
Photo by Ryan Faulkner-Hogg on Unsplash

After a wild one on Thursday to open the NHL’s Global Series, the Red Wings controlled a two-goal lead heading into the third period, but Toronto’s line of Tyler Bertuzzi, John Tavares and William Nylander combined for three goals in the final frame, handing Detroit a 3-2 loss on Friday at Avicii Arena in Sweden.

Toronto’s stars were quiet for much of the first 40 minutes and Detroit held a narrow 19-14 shot advantage, but the Maple Leafs stepped on the gas and fired 15 third-period shots on Alex Lyon in his season debut, who looked more than capable in this one.

Most devastating of it all, it squashed my plans to appropriately use what will go down in the GIF Hall of Fame, but I will not be deterred.

Game Summary
Event Summary

1st period
The first period was not quite the chaos-fest that Thursday’s game was, which Detroit should be pleased with. Joe Veleno had a great netfront chance, but other than that it was a low event period. Shots finished 7-5 in favor of Detroit, which hopefully helped out Lyon. Some goalies like action early to feel the puck and get into the game, but he’d probably prefer the easier workload rather than an onslaught from a talented Maple Leafs offense.

The highlight of the period was probably the large contingent of former Swedish Red Wings all sitting together — Henrik Zetterberg, Mikael Samuelsson, Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson.

2nd period
Tempers flared early in the frame, with a cross-check and slash-off between Moritz Seider and Max Domi. I’m not surprised, but I absolutely hate how most officials handle these situations. Both got their licks in, but Domi dropped the gloves, so Seider put him in a headlock and they each fell to the ice. The refs call double-minors on each of them. Domi definitely appeared to be the aggressor and escalator, and tried to initiate a fight. By calling it like this, they’ve essentially rewarded Domi — he took Detroit’s best defenseman off the ice for four minutes. It doesn’t feel like a deterrent if they’re trying to keep future post-whistle scrums from occurring.

After playing an uncharacteristically normal first half of the game, the game got back to its required level of weirdness just past the midway point of the second. Unfortunately, Jake Walman had to be helped off the ice after a strange play in which he turned the puck over, and then tripped trying to scramble back into position, knocking the net off with the side of his face or neck. He appeared to be in a lot of pain leaving the ice, and to make the situation stranger, the officials reviewed whether or not the puck would have gone in had the net not been dislodged. I’ve seen that in situations where the net is lifted up, but never when it’s three feet out of position. Thankfully, they stood with the no-goal call on the ice, avoiding the first theoretical goal in NHL history.

On the next shift, Michael Rasmussen missed on a glorious chance, and Morgan Rielly covered the puck in the crease, resulting in a penalty shot for Detroit. Daniel Sprong made a great move and outwaited Ilya Samsonov to break the scoreless tie.

Less than two minutes later, Lucas Raymond struck to extend the lead and give him goals in both games of the Global Series. Ben Chiarot slid a pass down to Raymond near the faceoff dot, and Toronto learned the hard way what happens when Raymond has a ton of time and space.

3rd period
The Maple Leafs broke Alex Lyon’s season-long shutout streak in the opening minutes of the third on a strong individual effort from Nylander, who spun away from Andrew Copp and centered a pass to Bertuzzi, who is sadly now on Nylander’s team. Shayne Gostisbehere had his stick tied up, but it didn’t matter, Nylander basically banked it in off his stick.

And it was an ill-timed penalty that led to Toronto’s tying goal courtesy of, guess who, Nylander, who is adding zeros to his paycheck every game. The Maple Leafs won control of the puck behind Detroit’s net and Nylander wired Mitch Marner’s centering feed past Lyon to knot the game at two.

Toronto capped off the comeback with a back-breaking goal set up by Bertuzzi, who responded to recent media criticism with a two-point, seven-shot effort. Great for him, just wish he’d saved that one for another night. Bertuzzi won a puck off Justin Holl — to the delight of Leafs fans everywhere — and spun a cross-crease pass just behind Olli Maatta and onto Tavares’ blade for the game-deciding goal.

1. Jake Walman is important. Not news to anyone who regularly looks at the top of the fancystat charts, or who watches games for that matter, but it’s pretty telling that the flurry of Maple Leafs shots, chances and all three goals came after he exited the game due to injury. Updates on his condition may not come until closer to Detroit’s next game on Wednesday, but if he’s missing extended time, I hope the Red Wings look to Simon Edvinsson. On top of his strong play so far in Grand Rapids, an extended Walman absence really limits the puck-transporting ability of the team’s defensive group, and Edvinsson would help to alleviate that.

2. Count on Lyon. I wrote this morning about why Lyon’s appearances have been and may continue to be few and far between. But this was a big moment and tough position to make your season debut in, and he looked as calm and collected as you could have hoped for on a big stage. Hard to place much blame on him for any of the three goals — two tap-ins and a power-play snipe from a guy blazing through a 16-game point streak right now.

3. It can’t snowball. Playing in these league events offers plenty of extra fanfare and spotlight. And Detroit probably felt very good about its chances at different points to win both yesterday and today. The flight back across the Atlantic is likely to feel like a disappointing one, but they have to flush it quickly. In addition to having to re-adjust to a time change, the Red Wings have a difficult slate on tap next week: home games against New Jersey (Wednesday) and Minnesota (Sunday), two teams expected to be in the playoffs who have not had the starts they’d like, plus a visit to Boston, who still isn’t really losing to anyone besides Detroit, on Friday. The Atlantic Division is tight, and taking points in those games is a necessity to keep pace with the top teams.

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