Wings get blue-line boost to down Leafs, snap 3-game skid
Detroit — Looking for offense to defeat a high-powered Toronto team Friday the Red Wings received it — just not from usual sources.
In fact, very, very, unlikely sources.
Defensemen Danny DeKeyser and Trevor Daley (shorthanded) scored their first goals of the season, sparking a second-period rally, and a more expected source, Tomas Tatar, added a third-period power play goal (Tatar’s 10th goal), leading the Red Wings to a 3-1 victory.
Goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped 25 shots, as the Red Wings (12-13-7, 31 points) head out for four road games just before and after the holidays.
BOX SCORE: Red Wings 3, Maple Leafs 1
It was only the second victory in 12 games for the Red Wings (2-5-5), who closed out a long homestand of 13 of 15 games (4-4-5) at Little Caesars Arena.
Not great, but a victory over a divisional, and Original Six rival such as Toronto will make the end of the homestand somewhat bearable.
And it was thanks to a pair of defensemen who usually stop goals rather than produce them.
Daley’s was the tiebreaker, at 11:22 of the second period.
After a Maple Leafs turnover, Daley found himself on a 2-on-1 rush with Dylan Larkin.
With the Leafs overplaying on Larkin, Daley skated to just outside the hash marks and snapped a shot past goalie Curtis McElhinney.
DeKeyser tied the game 1-1 earlier in the period.
DeKeyser trailed Henrik Zetterberg on a rush and quickly got to a loose puck just outside the dot, and flipped a shot just inside the goal post.
Tatar clinched it with his power-play goal at 9:39 of the third period.
Zetterberg threaded a pass to Tatar cutting to the net, and Tatar tapped the puck past McElhinney.
Andreas Borgman scored the lone Leafs’ goal, as Toronto lost its third consecutive game while playing their fifth game in seven nights.
The Leafs (20-13-1, 41 points) were without star forward Auston Matthews (upper body), who missed his fourth consecutive game.
In his short career Matthews has feasted on the Red Wings with eight points (six goals) in five games.
“He’s one of the best players in the league,” said forward Anthony Mantha after the morning skate. “For us, the play is the same way, I don’t think there’s any difference if he’s in or out. We need to put them on their heels instead of them putting us on ours.”
Despite not having Matthews in the lineup, coach Jeff Blashill regards Toronto’s forward depth among the best in the NHL.
“They still have dangerous, dangerous players,” Blashill said. “They have guys like (Patrick) Marleau who’s been a career elite player in this league. (William) Nylander is one of the best players in the league. They have a great forward group.”
Blashill felt a key against the Leafs was making them defend, which the Red Wings forced Toronto into doing for much of the game.
“If they have the puck lots and are attacking lots, and get you on your heels, you’re in trouble,” Blashill said. “We better get them on their heels with our forecheck pressure, much the same way we’ve played the last four games.”