Strong work on the faceoff and tremendous defense kept the Red Wings in the fight for the postseason. Their hold of the lead paid off against the Toronto Maple Leafs beating them 3-2 at Air Canada Centre Saturday night. The win allowed Detroit to take third place in the Atlantic Division holding a one-point lead over the Boston Bruins.
The Red Wings played their first of four games left on the schedule hoping that their Friday night victory against Minnesota could produce the same results in Toronto. While the Maple Leafs are out of contention for the postseason, they have a chance to ruin Detroit and put them behind as they found themselves in. The Red Wings had a strong performance in the second period of their victory last night and hope that everyone involved can do the same once more.
It took them some time but the Red Wings got on the board first with their power play creating some magic on offense. Pavel Datsyuk got in on he fun before his pass to Mike Green helped set up forward Brad Richards with a shot near the faceoff circle into the net for his tenth of the season. Things stayed even between the teams for some time until the late stages when the Red Wings searched to increase their score.
Mike Green made it 2-0 on a great shot from the boards where the puck travelled through the crease and the screen by Luke Glendening and Anthony Mantha that gave the defenseman his seventh. The Red Wings defense was playing stellar in the final minutes holding off Toronto from making a stab at the scoreboard. Jimmy Howard did work as well in net stopping all eight of the Maple Leaf’s shots to the net through 20 minutes making it a strong start for Detroit.
Toronto got the period started for themselves taking the heat to Howard and the Detroit end where after two minutes of pressure, they got one on the board. Morgan Rielly got a chance to shoot at Howard with part of the ice open to go in. He failed to make one count for himself but after some chances it was Colin Greening scoring on the rebound for his fourth 2:44 into the second.
The Leafs had something strong running for them for a majority of the first half as they outshot Detroit for the time. Toronto seemed to be in control of the puck taking time with the puck having allowed the Red Wings just two shots through ten minutes. They almost had the evened goal on another rebound attempt but Howard and the Detroit defense got lucky while shorthanded.
Toronto kept the pace on their terms through the period still gaining shots on the Red Wings. By the time there were three minutes left, Detroit was winning more on the faceoff gaining possession and time with the puck. The Red Wings got a break with a power play with 2:27 left but couldn’t add one more when the period came to a close. They did level the playing field with each team putting 22 shots apiece on ice with the third left to play.
The Detroit defense pressed hard in the opening minutes of the third making opportunities occur after Howard made some big saves against Toronto. The Red Wings got a chance to move out ahead of Toronto with Darren Helm leading the way. When he lost the puck, it was picked up by Kyle Quincey went fired from far end center to return the Red Wings two goal lead and pick up his third.
The two-goal margin left them only to play defense for the large part of the period that was left in regulation. They dealt with 10 shots to the net but couldn’t break Howard and the strong defense that the Red Wings had going for themselves. The last two minutes became Toronto’s desperate attempt to get back into the game pulling Garret Sparks from the net and bring on a sixth attacker.
Detroit took a few chances but missed the net by inches. It left Toronto with the opportunity to make things happened and did it with William Nylander scoring on a great pass from Nazim Kadri for his fifth with just 67 seconds left. Toronto had some other chances to level the game and send it to overtime but their success on the faceoff dot was squashed by the Red Wings who dominated on that front killing time off the clock.
In the last faceoff, Glendening stayed tight on the mark and moved the puck away from the net before getting a piece of it, sending it out just as the game was over. Their two game winning streak was a huge factor to staying in the race and for Howard it was another reason to smile with confidence. The 32 year old stopped 32 of 34 for his second straight win and 13th overall. With the day off Sunday, the Red Wings will be eyes wide open for the next few days before they take on the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday back in Detroit.