Tyler Bozak, Kris Versteeg and Phil Kessel combined for six points as the Toronto Maple Leafs doubled up the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday.
Toronto’s top line was a part of three of the four goals scored and looked to be in fine form in the Leafs’ final game of the exhibition schedule.
The trio first got on the score sheet in the first period when Tyler Bozak scored at the 16:28 mark on a three-on-one break that was sparked by a Detroit turnover in their own end which put the Leafs up 2-1.
Their next scoring play came early in the second period, while Toronto was on the power play, when Versteeg netted an easy rebounded puck from a Tomas Kaberle one-timed shot extending the Toronto lead to 3-1.
They would help make the score 4-1 a few minutes after, at 11:41 on another power play, after Kaberle blasted a one-timer home following a couple passes from Kessel and Versteeg. Bozak and Dion Phaneuf also helped on the play by screening Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard.
The only goal that the Leafs’ first line did not manufacture came at 14:19 in the first period with thanks to a nice dangle move from Mikhail Grabovski storming down the left wing.
After undressing his man, the Toronto centre dumped the puck back to a trailing Clarke MacArthur who finished the play off tying the game at 1-1.
The production from the second line was a welcome sight to Toronto head coach Ron Wilson who believes that production from that spot will be key for when the first line faces stiffer competition.
“When the regular season starts they’re [the first line] going to be facing the team’s top checking line at times,” Wilson said after the game.
“I can do things at home, but when you play on the road you can’t control the matchups as well. That’s where our second line has gotta chip in, and they’re capable of doing that.”
Detroit was the first to score at 10:41 in the the first frame while on the power play with a sliding snap shot on the left side after a nice sequence of passes that saw the puck travel from the left-to-right.
Their second goal also came on the power play and was scored by Tomas Tatar at 12:13 in the third period and made the score 4-2.
Physical is a good word to describe the game as evidenced by the 18 combined penalties between the two clubs.
So rough was the affair that it included a 10 minute misconduct handed out to Maple Leaf defenceman Luke Schenn after fighting with Detroit’s Luke Abdelkader.
There were a multitude of smaller skirmishes that were broken up by the referees throughout the game, so it seemed like it was inevitable that gloves would drop eventually.
J.S. Giguere got the start in net for the the Leafs and in the two periods of action he saw, he was able to stop 22 shots of the 23 he saw.
In the third period, Toronto changed goaltenders and brought in Jussi Rynnas who made 12 saves in his period of work.
The Red Wings’ Howard made 25 saves.
Toronto dressed a lineup that looks like the one that will play when the games are for real, while Detroit only had seven players in uniform that will likely be on its actual roster.
This Wings’ still have one more pre-season game remaining. A match at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.
Both clubs will begin the regular season on Thursday.