HAMILTON, Ont. – Rookie Evgeny Svechnikov had a game to remember, scoring a pair of goals in the Red Wings 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It was the second-last exhibition game for both teams — the club’s will meet at Joe Louis Arena, in Detroit, on Saturday night — as they point to the start of the regular season this coming week
Svechnikov, a 19-year-old taken in the 2015 draft, redeemed himself for an early holding penalty two minutes into the night’s action at FirstOntario Centre.
At the conclusion of the Maple Leafs’ power play, he burst out of the penalty box and collected a pass tipped up to him from Red Wings defenceman Nathan Paetsch and then quickly shot the puck past starting goaltender Jhonas Enroth for his second goal of the preseason.
Assists went to Paetsch and Drew Miller.
Enroth got the nod over Garret Sparks between the pipes for the Leafs (2-3-2) and he did well to allow only a single goal in the opening frame as the Red Wings (5-1-1) handily outshot Toronto 11-6.
But in an act of hard work that would make Hamiltonians proud, the Leafs drew even.
On a broken play, the Red Wings turned the puck over after a strong forecheck by Colin Smith, who dove and fed the puck in front of the net on to the tape of Brendan Leipsic, who in turn roofed it over Red Wings’ goalie Jimmy Howard’s shoulder for the goal with under a minute left in the period.
This re-ignited the crowd in what was a decidedly split showing between Red Wings and Maple Leafs fans, back in favour of Leafs Nation.
Detroit continued to maintain a lot of the play at the start of the second period and under five minutes in Svechnikov potted his second of the game and third of the preseason.
Forward Tyler Bertuzzi won the battle for the puck deep in the Leafs end, cycled it back to the point and Svechnikov was there to put back the goal on the doorstep in front of Enroth, who had no chance.
Toronto tried to pick up their goaltender and the crowd in the third when Enroth was pulled with 1:25 to play, but was unable to muster much offence against the Wings.
Between the pipes for the Red Wings, Howard, was not tested often, making 18 saves in the victory, but had help from his posts late in the second period.
With under five minutes to play, defenceman Kerby Rychel wired a shot off the post and then off Howard, but he managed to sprawl backward and sweep the puck away from the goal line.
Enroth made 24 saves in the hard-luck loss for Toronto.
Saturday ends a busy road preseason for the Leafs that has covered home games in St. Catharines, Saskatoon and Hamilton.
It will also be the last meeting between the two teams until their outdoor New Year’s Day matchup for the NHL’s first-ever Centennial Classic at BMO Field in Toronto.