Special teams stronger, but Detroit Red Wings’ offense still struggles in 4-1 L to Leafs

Detroit Free Press

Their third game in four nights yielded no better result than their first two.

The Detroit Red Wings‘ losing streak grew to three as they fell, 4-1, to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday at Scotiabank Arena. The Wings have lost nine straight against the Leafs, all in regulation.

Unlike the previous two games this week, the penalty kill was better, allowing one goal — but being short-handed five times disrupted the offensive flow. The Wings got the first goal for a second straight game, but again couldn’t build momentum. In their final four games of 2022, dating back to their last game before the Christmas break, the Wings (16-15-7) averaged 4.75 goals a game while picking up three wins. In their first three games of 2023, they’re 0-3 with four goals total.

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Defenseman Jake Walman argued a questionable tripping call that landed him in the penalty box at 9:48, but his exit from the box two minutes later seemed to go unnoticed by the Leafs; Walman was able to get in behind Toronto’s defense and get off a clean shot that went stick-side on Ilya Samsonov. Defenseman Olli Määttä set up the goal with a pass from deep inside his own zone.

The Leafs were credited with a shot on net late in the first period, getting them to a total of … two. They scored on the third one, though, with Mitch Marner beating Magnus Hellberg 24 seconds into the second period. The Leafs went ahead, 2-1, when John Tavares took a pass from Calle Jarnkrok, deked to his forehand and tipped the puck over Hellberg’s pad.

The Leafs pulled further ahead when Morgan Rielly fired a shot from the left circle and the puck deflected in off the shaft of Pontus Holmberg’s stick. Tavares added a second goal when he scored into an empty net with 1:39 to play. Hellberg finished with 25 saves as the Leafs outshot the Wings, 15-5, in the third period.

While the penalty killers had a good night after allowing four goals the previous two games, the power play went scoreless through more than five minutes of man-advantage time.

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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