William Nylander’s two-goal night lifted the Toronto Maples Leafs to a 4-3 overtime pre-season win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
The Swedish winger first opened and then closed the scoring at 1:24 of overtime in a back-and-forth thriller at Scotiabank Arena. In the extra period, Nylander finished a dominating possession from Auston Matthews to bring Toronto to their fourth win of the pre-season.
“I think we really competed well,” said Nylander in the post-game presser. “We really stepped up our game in the third period.”
Toronto outshot Detroit 14-3 in the third period.
Nylander’s first goal came within the opening minutes of the game in a 4-on-4 opportunity. Mitch Marner picked a pass in the Wings’ zone to find Nylander, who waited out Detroit’s goaltender Alex Lyon to bury the puck in a wide-open net.
The blast was his first goal of the pre-season, which opened the scoring for the Maple Leafs at 3:25 in the first period.
Matthews also registered a goal, taking advantage of a 5-on-3 power-play in the second after finishing a pretty play from teammates John Tavares and Marner.
“There’s always some good and some bad … I think at times it was a little bit sloppy,” said Matthews. “I thought that third period is how we’d like to continue to play and hone in on the good things we did there.”
Newly acquired Leafs forward Tyler Bertuzzi earned his first goal of the pre-season since joining Toronto, picking off an errant pass from Wings defenceman Jared McIsaac, and beating Lyon blocker side on a breakaway at 8:12 of the second period to give Toronto a 3-2 lead.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe believed Thursday was the best outing for the Sudbury-born winger in the blue sweater so far.
“He had a little more pace and that line [Matthew, Bertuzzi, Marner] is a little more connected, especially as the game went on.” said Keefe.
Ilya Samsonov turned away 17 of his 20 shots he faced on the night for the Maple Leafs. He struggled at various points, and gifted Detroit an opportunity late in the second period after he misplayed a puck straight into Joe Veleno’s stick, who found Dominik Shine for the easy tap-in to tie the game at 3-3.
But he gave the Leafs a chance after the Red Wings had a fury of shots in the final minutes of the third period.
Wings tender Lyon faced 38 shots on the night, turning away 34.
Both teams close out their pre-season with another tilt against each other on Saturday in Detroit.
NOTES: Leafs centre Calle Järnkrok saw his first action of the pre-season after returning from a neck injury. Leafs Simon Benoit struggled with the whistle on the night, committing three penalties for the Maple Leafs, one of which resulted in a power-play goal for Detroit … The game was littered with calls, as each team registered five penalties.