Leafs jump out early in win vs. Wings
TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs were economical and clinical in the first period on Wednesday night. It seemed like every time they took a shot, it went in.
They took only five shots in the first 20 minutes yet had a 4-1 lead on their way to a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
Toronto earned its third consecutive win.
“There were some kind of funny goals, I don’t know that it was all on (the goaltenders),” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “Some of it is that it was one of those nights where it just kind of goes in for them.
“We did tons of good stuff and had lots of moments especially in the first when we carried the play (and had 10 shots on goal), but it just seemed that everything that they threw at the net went in. I can’t say that’s always goaltending. Just sometimes that’s how it goes.”
Nazem Kadri, Zach Hyman, Auston Matthews, Connor Brown, Morgan Rielly and William Nylander each scored a goal for the Maple Leafs (6-1-0). All of the goal-scorers except for Brown added an assist.
Toronto won its second game in two nights after defeating the Washington Capitals 2-0 on Tuesday.
“We used everybody (Tuesday) night, a good four-line rotation, so that helped us as well,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “Our guys were fresher than they might have been.
“It took us a bit to get going. Even though we scored, it took us a bit to get skating, and then once we got skating, I thought we got better as the game went on.”
Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Tatar and Jonathan Ericsson scored for the Red Wings (4-3-0), who have lost two in a row. Nick Jensen added three assists for Detroit.
Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard allowed three goals on four shots before being replaced by Petr Mrazek, who stopped 19 of 21.
Toronto goaltender Curtis McElhinney made 30 saves in his first game of the season.
“There’s a little rust on my end, that’s for sure, but it sure did feel nice to get in there,” McElhinney said. “Obviously, the run support early on helps and goes a long way. It’s just a big win for us, and I’m happy I could help out.”
The Maple Leafs struck for their first two goals 43 seconds apart in the first period.
Kadri roofed a wrist shot from the left circle at 5:56 for his fourth goal of the season, and Hyman notched No. 3, deflecting a shot by Rielly, who recorded his 100th career assist.
“It definitely helps that we were able to be pretty (opportunistic) in the first five minutes there,” Kadri said. “It’s a positive for us. But it’s back-to-back, you find ways to win and it’s not going to be perfect.”
Zetterberg scored on the wrap-around at 9:09 of the first, his fourth goal of the season, to cut the lead in half.
Toronto led 3-1 after the sixth goal of the season by Matthews, a shot from the left circle at 15:46 of the first.
Mrazek replaced Howard and allowed Brown’s third goal of the season 40 seconds later, the fastest two goals this season by Toronto.
“It’s never easy to go in when you’re cold,” Mrazek said. “The first one went through three or four guys and off the post, and after that, I think we played very well. It’s never fun to go in (during the game). You support your team, you’re hoping for the best they can do on the ice.”
Tatar scored his first goal of the season and No. 100 in his career on a rebound at 7:02 of the second period with the teams playing with four skaters aside. Ericsson got his first of the season 1:34 later to reduce Toronto’s lead to 4-3.
Toronto regained a two-goal margin at 12:57 of the second on Rielly’s first goal of the season on the power play.
“I don’t think we were very happy with the way we played in the first,” Rielly said. “They came out and I feel like they controlled the majority of the play, but we have lots of guys who can put the puck in the net, and when that happens early on, especially in a back-to-back, to get the feeling where you have a bit of breathing room is nice.”
Nylander scored his second goal of the season into an empty net at 16:52 of the third period.
“When you have chances and you don’t put them in, you know there’s another puck going your way, so it’s real tough mentally,” Tatar said.
NOTES: Toronto C Patrick Marleau played in his 1,500th NHL game. ... After Toronto G Frederik Andersen posted his first shutout of the season Tuesday in a 2-0 victory over the Washington Capitals, G Curtis McElhinney started Wednesday. ... Toronto C Dominic Moore and D Calle Rosen were replaced in the lineup by C Eric Fehr and D Andreas Borgman for the game. ... Red Wings D Danny DeKeyser (ankle) missed his fourth straight game. He resumed skating but could be out for one or two more weeks. ... Detroit is home to the Washington Capitals on Friday. Toronto visits the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.