Detroit Red Wings shredded for 5 goals in 3rd period of 7-4 loss to Toronto Maple Leafs

Detroit Free Press

Invigorated by a big win on the road, the Detroit Red Wings returned home and tested themselves against an Original Six rival.

A lively crowd at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday provided energy as the Wings took on the high-power Toronto Maple Leafs, 24 hours after winning in a shootout at Pittsburgh. The Wings had a two-goal lead with 10 minutes to play, but the Leafs scored five times to come away with a 7-4 victory

It was a disappointing finish for the Wings (19-20-6) after a good start, and tarnished Jeff Blashill’s 500th game behind Detroit’s bench.

“We’re up 4-2, there’s got to be a way to win that game,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “We defended too much. We didn’t make it hard on them in the third and that’s the game.

“I thought we had great energy, it was a great atmosphere — it always is against those guys. We just have to find a way to hang onto their lead there.”

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Larkin scored first and fourth, giving the Wings a 4-2 lead after Toronto’s Pierre Engvall and Michael Bunting dented the momentum. Larkin’s 22nd goal of the season came on a power play, when he was left undefended in the high slot and he redirected a well-timed pass from Robby Fabbri. Bunting scored again midway through the third period when he connected on Auston Matthews’ shot on net. Bunting completed a hat trick 90 seconds later, when Mitch Marner bulldozed past Adam Erne and Filip Zadina to set up a 4-4 game. Rasmus Sandin scored on Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic for the lead with three minutes to play, Marner put it away while Fabbri was in the penalty box, and John Tavares added the finally tally.

“We got too loose in the second,” Blashill said. “Then in the third, we didn’t have enough pushback and the our D-zone coverage was no good.”

Once upon a time

It was only the sixth start of the season for Toronto goalie Petr Mrazek, who has battled injuries. The Leafs are the 29-year-old’s third team since being traded by the Wings at the 2018 deadline. The Wings drafted Mrazek at No. 141 in 2010, and by 2015-16 — the Red Wings’ most recent playoff season — he looked like he might be the goalie of the future. Ultimately he was too prone to inconsistency, and after being exposed in the 2017 Vegas expansion draft, he was traded the following year. Mrazek played 17 games for the Philadelphia Flyers, and when they didn’t tend him a qualifying offer, signed as a free agent with the Carolina Hurricanes. This past offseason, he signed as a free agent for three years and $11.4 million with the Leafs.

A quarter of a century

Red Wings rookie defenseman Moritz Seider continued his dominating weekend with a pair of assists to open the second period. Seider showed off his physical side Friday when he got in Sidney Crosby’s face, shoving the superstar after a glove to his face. Against the Leafs, it was Seider’s offensive side on display, as he set up Vladislav Namestnikov and Tyler Bertuzzi for goals. On Bertuzzi’s score, Seider took advantage of a turnover to pick the puck up at the red line and carry it into the offensive zone before dishing it away. That gave Seider 25 assists on the season, furthering his Calder Trophy case as rookie of the year.

The 21 club

Larkin picked up his second goal in three games on his first shift. Namestnikov flicked the puck to Larkin as he entered Toronto’s zone, and Larkin breezed through the Maple Leafs’ defense to give the Wings an early lead. It was Larkin’s 21st goal of the season. Bertuzzi followed Larkin’s tally at 2:11 of the second period. Fabbri got the puck from Seider and passed it to Bertuzzi, who slid to the bottom of the right circle and picked a corner, sending the puck top shelf short side.

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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