TORONTO – The pre-season ended exactly how the Leafs drew it up; staying healthy and getting production from one of their young players.
It was 20-year old Josh Leivo who scored two goals in front of a near sell-out attendance of 19,320 at the Air Canada Centre, as Toronto (5-2-1) finished the pre-season schedule with a 3-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night.
For the third rounder in 2011, it was an unexpected opportunity to open some eyes before the roster is cut to 23 by Tuesday.
“It was a great feeling. The crowd got me going, I got a couple chances, and I capitalized on them,” Leivo said.
Captain Dion Phaneuf, and forwards Joffrey Lupul and James Van Riemsdyk were among the many regulars who sat for the finale.
Forward Phil Kessel was also missing from the line-up, serving the last game of his suspension for the slashing incident against the Buffalo Sabres last week.
Forward Nazem Kadri suited up however, posting one shot in 18:46 minutes of play.
Last year’s starting goalie James Reimer also played, stopping 24 of 25 shots. Reimer and newcomer Jonathan Bernier continued the alternating starts pattern, as Bernier played last night in the Red Wings 5-2 victory last night at Joe Louis Arena.
For head coach Randy Carlyle, its still a toss-up on who will be the starting goalie to begin the season.
“I think both of our goalies have played well, and I think that is probably going to be the toughest decision,” Carlyle said at the press conference after the game.
“It’s tough on coaches, and tough on management to pick one guy when both have played well. But the underlining fact is that it’s a great decision because we have 1-A and 1-B quality goaltenders. Both guys can start.”
Detroit (3-5-0) sat forwards Daniel Alfredsson, Pavel Datsyuk and captain Henrik Zetterberg, after they put up two points apiece in Friday’s contest.
Leivo broke the scoring for the Leafs with a tip-in off a Cody Franson shot, with 5:41 left in the second period.
John-Michael Liles followed with a power-play goal three minutes later, immediately firing a slap shot from the face-off past Red Wings netminder Petr Mrazek.
Midway through the third period, Leivo scored again on a wrist shot past Mrazek’s glove side to put the Leafs up 3-0.
Red Wings forward Mitch Callahan scored with four minutes left in the third to put an end to Reimer’s shutout attempt.
Toronto had a good look at three of their new Atlantic Division foes in Detroit, Ottawa and Buffalo during the exhibition season.
The Leafs now travel to Montreal to start the regular campaign against another division foe and familiar rival in the Canadiens Tuesday night.
Notes: Detroit F Pavel Datsyuk came into this game tied for the lead in pre-season points with eight … Reimer came into today’s game with an edge over Bernier in GAA (3.18 to 3.65) and save percentage (91.3 to 89.1).