Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou each had two points and Petr Mrazek was solid in net as the Detroit Red Wings stole a game from the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre.
Despite being outshot 29-15 the Red Wings held on for a 2-1 win over the Leafs (3-5) who lost for the fifth straight game in the pre-season.
Toronto head coach Mike Babcock is pleased with the effort he’s seen from his team and believes they’ve progressed well as training camp has moved forward.
“I actually liked us a lot the last couple of nights,” said the coach. “I would have liked to have a victory tonight, but I thought Mrazek was, obviously, the first star.
“[Mrazek] has a tendency to be like that, that kid, so good for him, but I like the way we played.”
Detroit (6-0-2) opened the scoring at 13:50 of the second period with a wrist shot from Athanasiou (4) that found its way past Jonathan Bernier who fell to 1-3-0 in the preseason.
It was a shot that the Leafs’ goaltender would like to have back, but felt good about both his individual game, as well as his team’s effort.
“Just the first one,” said Bernier. “It snuck through my arm, but other than that I felt pretty good tonight.
“I thought we played a really solid game, we dominated this game and it’s great to build off.”
Detroit was being out-shot by the Leafs 12-3 in the second frame before the go-ahead goal made it 1-0.
The Red Wings extended their lead to 2-0 with 54 seconds remaining in the middle frame. With James Van Riemsdyk in the box for holding, Mantha took a cross-ice pass from Athanasiou and roofed it over Bernier’s glove for his third goal of exhibition.
The Leafs cut the lead in half 22 seconds into the third with Brad Boyes’ first goal of the preseason. Van Riemsdyk and Scott Harrington picked up the assists.
Tempers flared at 8:17 of the third after Richard Panik caught Tyler Bertuzzi with a hard, open-ice hit. Play continued down ice until Peter Holland took a hit that caused a scrum behind Detroit’s net.
“I took a good hit behind the net and I got up and was seeing red for a little bit,” said the Leaf forward. “So I grabbed the closest guy and started wailing.”
That player was game-winning-goal scorer Mantha.
“He was saying the whole time that he didn’t want to fight,” said Holland. “So I said, ‘Ok, we’re done’ and then when the linesman came in he threw an absolute haymaker which I thought was kind of gutless, but so be it.”
Holland and Mantha were given five-minute fighting majors while Panik and Bertuzzi were dished out roughing minors.
The Leafs had chances on the power play with Dan Cleary off for holding later in the third, but couldn’t beat Mrazek.
Slow start to game
Neither team managed to generate much offensively in the first, registering just 12 total shots.
Michael Grabner took a holding penalty 10 seconds into the game, but the Leafs’ penalty killing unit held the Wings to one shot on goal.
Less than five minutes into the frame Nazem Kadri fanned on a chance in front while on a two-on-one play that resulted from a turnover at the Wings’ blue-line.
Under three minutes to go in the period, Panik skated in front of the Detroit net from the corner, but lost control of the puck before getting a shot away in the crowded crease.
Kadri fanned on another opportunity early in the second, however, did get the puck back on his stick and fired it at the net. Mrazek was there to make the save, but the extended pressure forced Nick Jensen to take a holding penalty at 3:06.
Near the seven minute mark, Kadri rushed up the ice on a two-on-one with Brad Boyes. He opted to shoot as the passing lane was blocked and was stopped again by Mrazek.
Things started to heat up after P.A. Parenteau took a bording penalty at 8:20 of the second. A scrum ensued, however, no other penalties were given out.
Detroit failed to register a shot with the man advantage.
Leo Komarov had a short-handed chance when he rushed up the right-side boards and cut towards the goal, but fired the shot just wide of the top left corner over the blocker of Mrazek.