Maple Leafs' Last-Gasp Effort Falls Short in Detroit

Gordon Brown
BarnBurner Sports Writer

@gordbrown_

Friday, February 1, 2019


Detroit (3) Toronto (2) Final OT

Photo credit: @MapleLeafs

DETROIT—The Detroit Red Wings spoiled Jake Muzzin’s Toronto Maple Leafs debut with a 3-2 overtime victory on home ice. Andreas Athanasiou contributed to each goal and tallied three assists, while Gustav Nyquist added a goal and an assist for Detroit. 

The Original Six matchup was underscored by Red Kelly’s number four jersey retirement ceremony. Detroit took the opportunity to honour an all-time great of the organization and it was fitting they did so with Toronto in town. Kelly spent parts of 13 seasons with the Red Wings before being traded to Toronto in 1959-60, where he spent his final eight seasons in the league. He became the eighth Red Wing to have their number raised to the rafters and also the eighth in NHL history to be honoured by two different teams. 

Despite finishing his career as a centre with the Maple Leafs, Kelly was the inaugural Norris Trophy recipient as the NHL’s best all-round defenceman in 1953-54. The Hall of Famer amassed 823 points across 1316 career games, was an eight-time Stanley Cup champion, and a four-time Lady Byng Trophy winner.

It was either team’s first game back since before the All-Star break and respective bye weeks.

As the action got underway, Toronto failed to record their first shot on goal until 13:31 and were outshot 10-5 after the opening twenty minutes. Five-on-five Corsi also convincingly favoured the Red Wings in the first period at 66.67% according to Natural Stat Trick.

The scoreless deadlock persisted but was eventually broken at 8:14 in the second period, courtesy of Gustav Nyquist’s 12th goal of the season. Detroit owned a 1-0 lead.

Zach Hyman was stood up at the Toronto blue line by former University of Michigan teammate Dylan Larkin, failing to exit the zone, and allowed the Red Wings to capitalize as a result. Frederik Andersen was left vulnerable after stopping several shots, only to have the puck leak to Nyquist for a scoring opportunity on a seemingly empty net.

After a slow start to the game, Toronto found life in the dying minutes of the second and produced a much-needed equalizer. Patrick Marleau held possession behind the opposing goal line before locating Auston Matthews in the slot, where he sniped his 22nd goal of the season past Jimmy Howard. A 1-1 tie lasted through intermission and set the stage for an exciting third period.

The league’s least penalized team, Toronto, surrendered four man-advantages in regulation time and were unscathed until the fourth instance. Marleau’s hooking penalty proved to be costly and allowed the Red Wings to take a 2-1 advantage late in the game. Detroit produced a go-ahead tally but were unable to close out the win in regulation time, instead opting for a thrilling overtime finish. 

Marleau went on to compensate for his previous mistake and notched his 12th goal of the season at 17:41 to tie the game at 2-apiece.

However, a last-gasp effort was not enough for Toronto to steal a win out from under the Red Wings. Danny DeKeyser made his impact felt and scored the game-winning goal at 2:40 of the overtime, with assists drawn from Nyquist and Athanasiou respectively.

Muzzin logged 18:08 time on ice and was trusted on Toronto's top defensive pairing alongside Rielly. He had two blocked shots but no points to show for his effort. Rielly, on the other hand, posted a team-high 28:16 time on ice.

Detroit (20-25-7) walked away with their second straight victory—but Dylan Larkin left the ice in noticeable pain during the extra frame. There was no update on his condition post-game but Jeff Blashill did speculate that it is an upper-body injury at this time. He will travel to Ottawa with the team. 

The Maple Leafs (30-17-3) are back in action tomorrow night, February 2, for the second leg of a back-to-back situation. Garret Sparks is expected to receive the nod in goal as Toronto returns home for a date with the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7:00 pm. 

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