Red Wings finally solve Maple Leafs jinx, first regulation win since 2017

Detroit News

Detroit − The Red Wings finally have a victory to their credit against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It had been a while, nine consecutive losses and the Wings hadn’t defeated Toronto in regulation since Dec. 15, 2017, but the Wings did it Thursday in nailbiting fashion, 4-1.

It was the first victory of any sort against the Leafs since Feb. 1, 2019.

Lucas Raymond and Robby Fabbri (power play) had early goals, Ben Chiarot (empty net) and Moritz Seider (power play) scored in the final two minutes, while goaltender Ville Husso stopped 32 shots as the Wings (18-15-7) won their second consecutive game on this three-game homestand.

“They’ve had our number and they’re a good team, they’re a contender,” Fabbri said. “We’ve played them hard and it’s nice to be on the winning side of this one.”

It was the second time in six days the Original Six rivals met, Toronto (26-10-7) winning 4-1 Saturday at Scotiabank Arena.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 4, Maple Leafs 1

Rasmus Sandin had the lone Leafs goal, while goaltender Ilya Samsonov had 20 saves. The Leafs were without reigning NHL most valuable player Auston Matthews for a second consecutive game with an undisclosed injury.

But this was a different Wings team from Tuesday’s run-and-gun victory where the victory was nice, but the way the Wings won didn’t impress anyone, including themselves.

“We didn’t give up a ton, a more complete game,” said coach Derek Lalonde, who liked the overall defense. “We had a five-on-five game, we won the special teams, and we flipped a tight game. A very good win for us.”

Lalonde was confident the Wings’ overall lack of energy in Tuesday’s game wouldn’t carry over.

“I just think it was a one-off, an outlying game,” Lalonde said. “Sometimes the schedule sneaks up on you in weird ways and teams are tired and flat and maybe we could have done things a little differently with the way I managed it.”

The Wings’ penalty kill, which has struggled in the last week or so, killed three Toronto power plays with the Wings clinging to a one-goal lead.

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Toronto appeared to open the night’s scoring only 56 seconds into the game, but a review nixed Bobby McMann’s apparent goal.

McMann got to the puck after a Leafs faceoff victory, drove to the net, but kicked the puck directly at Olli Maatta’s skate, the puck then getting past Husso. The kicking motion nullified the goal, and Lalonde felt it was a key turning jucnture.

“The way they manage their game, even from last year to this year, they don’t turn pucks over and they defend,” Lalonde said. “If they get one goal that whole period feels just different.”

Raymond got the Wings going at 8:48 of the first period.

Dylan Larkin made the play, intercepting a pass near the middle of the ice, then driving through the slot. Larkin left a little drop pass to Raymond near the hashmarks, and Raymond whistled his 12th goal against Samsonov.

The Wings had a power play late in the period, but couldn’t convert.

Toronto put itself into further, deeper, penalty trouble early in the second period and the Wings did take advantage this time.

The Wings failed to capitalize on a 39-second, two-man advantage, but Fabbri made it 2-0 with the power play winding down.

Jonatan Berggren had the puck on the flank, froze Samsonov, then looked off and dished to a wide open Fabbri in the slot. Fabbri snapped his third goal in four games since returning to the lineup from knee surgery, giving the Wings a two-goal lead at 3:49.

“Goals are coming and I’m not going to complain about that,” Fabbri said. “But getting them in wins definitely feels much better.”

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Lalonde has been impressed with how Fabbri has worked his way into the lineup.

“He was kind of the forgotten, injured guy because it was projected he’d be back in the New Year, but as a coaching staff we were anxiously awaiting him back,” Lalonde said. “He has bite, he’s brought energy and just helps our depth throughout our lines. He’s pitched in three goals on a team that struggles to finish (offensively).”

The Leafs regained some momentum with Sandin’s goal.

Sandin ran a give-and-go with John Tavares, skated down the wing, and snapped a shot that deflected off Larkin’s stick and past Husso for Sandin’s third goal, at 6:18.

It was a good bounce back game for Husso, also, after a game he allowed five goals but actually preserved the Wings’ victory with some timely late saves.

“A win is a win,” Husso said. “I’d take that win a couple nights ago every night. Five goals is a lot, but we scored seven, so it was a good night. Toronto is a good team and only one goal for them, you usually should win. We did a good job of keeping them on the outside and and even though they got (33) shots they still made my night easy and no real dangerus shots there.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

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