Red Wings beat Maple Leafs to end losing streak
DETROIT — With each heartbreaking setback, the Detroit Red Wings kept reminding themselves that they were a good team, that they were doing things the right way, and that if they stuck with it, they would ultimately be rewarded.
Their moment of redemption arrived Friday, at the expense of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Defensemen Danny DeKeyser and Trevor Daley each scored their first goals of the season as the Red Wings ended a three-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the Maple Leafs.
Tomas Tatar also scored for Detroit, which finished a five-game homestand 2-1-2. Jimmy Howard made 25 saves for the victory.
Andreas Borgman scored for the Maple Leafs, who have lost three in a row. Toronto’s five-game winning streak against the Red Wings also came to an end.
“As long as we play our way and the right way, we’re a good team and we’re hard to play against,” Daley said. “The results haven’t been showing it lately, but tonight was good for our team to see the results.
“Playing the right way, we get the right result.”
It didn’t start out like it would be Detroit’s night. The Leafs grabbed the lead just 1:58 into the game when Borgman’s point shot off a faceoff win by Dominic Moore squeezed in between the arm and body of Howard.
“You look at what’s been going on lately, it’s easy to get down by one and then fold,” Daley said. “This team, we’ve been telling each other we’re a good team and the results are going to go the right way.
“We stuck with it and now it’s time to build off this.”
The Wings tied it 5:22 into the second period. Driving toward the net, DeKeyser slipped around Toronto forward James van Riemsdyk and whipped a quick shot past Toronto goaltender Curtis McElhinney for his first point of the season.
Detroit took the lead while short-handed at 11:22 of the second period. Daley came down the ice with Dylan Larkin on a 2-on-1 and, using Larkin as a decoy, beat McElhinney (26 saves) with a wrist shot on the short side for his first goal as a Red Wing.
Coming into the game, Detroit had just five goals all season from defensemen. Only the Buffalo Sabres (one) had fewer among the NHL’s 31 teams.
“We’re just trying to jump in the play when we can,” DeKeyser said. “I just happened to get up in the play and get a chance. Dales just jumped up there and he had time and space, so that was kind of nice.”
Toronto coach Mike Babcock felt the short-handed goal really took the wind out of his team’s sails.
“I thought we were good in the first period and into the second, but we came a little unraveled after they scored,” Babcock said. “Once they got the second one, we were chasing the game.”
Tatar completed the scoring on a power play at 9:39 of the third period, redirecting Henrik Zetterberg’s pass behind McElhinney from the edge of the Toronto goal crease.
“That goal for 3-1, it’s really big and I think it got the pressure off us,” Tatar said. “You have to score more of these in games like this.
“I know it’s impossible to do it every time but it will help to pick up the win for sure.”
Toronto’s three straight losses have come minus team scoring leader Auston Matthews (13-13-26), out with an upper-body. Without Matthews, the Maple Leafs have scored just three goals in the past three games.
“We are missing a great offensive player, and that makes things easier for the other team,” Leafs forward Tyler Bozak said. “When he’s on the ice, the other team has to match up with him and keep track of him.
“We’ve won five games without him, though, so we know how to do it.”
Friday was also the fifth game in seven nights for Toronto, but Babcock wasn’t interested in making excuses for his team.
“Good teams find a way to dig in and win these games, and they do it not necessarily on skill but on determination and good composure, and knowing how to play right,” Babcock said. “So we have some work to do. We know that.”
NOTES: D Connor Carrick and LW Josh Leivo were scratched for the Leafs. ... Wings scratches were LW David Booth and D Xavier Ouellet. ... The Leafs lost in their first visit to Little Caesars Arena. The Leafs had won their first game in all three of Detroit’s other home rinks — Windsor’s Border Cities Arena (2-1, Jan. 4, 1927), Olympia Stadium (2-1, Jan. 12, 1928) and Joe Louis Arena (4-1, Feb. 10, 1980). ... On Dec, 15, 1979, the Wings played their farewell game at Olympia Stadium, a 4-4 tie with the Quebec Nordiques. ... The Wings have scored six short-handed goals, tied for the NHL lead. The Leafs and New York Rangers are the only NHL teams yet to register a short-handed goal. ... The Wings accounted for a combined total of five short-handed goals over the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.