Detroit Red Wings don’t measure up to Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday, lose, 4-2, at LCA

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings‘ winning streak came to an end as they struggled against an opponent with elite skill.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, in second place and one spot ahead of the Wings in the Atlantic Division, chased Ville Husso and forced the Wings to chase most of the night Monday at Little Caesars Arena. The Wings took shots at Matt Murray but lacked for top-notch chances, and that resulted in a 4-2 loss that ended a stretch of four straight victories and points in five games. It also spoiled the first time the Wings wore their retro sweaters this season.

Moritz Seider scored his second goal of the season and also picked up an assist when Adam Erne scored in the third period, after Toronto had pulled ahead by three goals.

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The Wings pulled their goalie with just under three minutes to go for an extra attacker.

The Wings (11-6-4) next play Wednesday at home against the Buffalo Sabres.

Momentum swings

The Wings tested Murray a handful of times in the first five minutes and were able to make it 1-0 when Seider won a battle for a loose puck in Toronto’s crease, at 4:45 of the first period. They had a chance to build on that momentum when Joe Veleno drew a penalty a minute later, but responded with as ineffective power play as they’ve had all year, unable to establish possession. Instead the Leafs grabbed momentum, with Auston Matthews flinging the puck from the slot to tie the game at 8:24 and William Nylander popping a rebound behind Ville Husso on a Toronto power play at 9:15. The Wings outshot the Leafs, 10-5, in the first period.

Husso pulled

Husso has been the Wings’ MVP this season, and would be the first to admit he would want the third goal back. Mitchell Marner scored in the opening minute of the second period on a shot that hit Husso in the chest and went in. Husso’s night ended just short of the midpoint, when Rasmus Sandin made it 4-1 on a shot from the point. For the first time this season the Wings made an in-game goaltending change. Husso’s nine saves on 13 shots made for a .692 save percentage, marking a rare night from him where he struggled.

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Nedeljkovic reappears

The decision to pull Husso did allow Alex Nedeljkovic to get some looks for the first time since he allowed four goals on 21 shots Nov. 12 in Los Angeles. The Wings need him, but the schedule has been nicely spaced of late and Husso had been playing so well (1.96 goals-against average, .922 save percentage during the winning streak). Husso and Nedeljkovic alternated the first six games of the season, until Husso’s performances demanded he get more starts. Nedeljkovic, who has only started three games since Oct. 27, made 12 saves.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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