The last time the Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings was the Winter Classic, so it's nice to see the team get two points out of this contest. Overall, it wasn't the prettiest of wins, but hey, we'll take it.
The first period was a wild one, with the Leafs and the Pavel Datsyukless Wings exchanging chances on a frequent basis. The Leafs came out on top after 20 minutes thanks to a goal from Leo Komarov, but the score could easily have been 2-2. Kadri was robbed on a rebound chance by Jimmy Howard, and Jonathan Bernier stood tall for the Leafs at the other end.
The second period was a bad one for the Leafs. Not only did Roman Polak go down with what looked to be a serious injury to his left leg, the Wings tied it up on the ensuing play. More generally, the team sat back, and "received the game" to borrow a Randy Carlyle expression for Randy Carlyle Hockey.
In the third, the Leafs continued sitting back, but managed to come out on top on a couple of Red Wing turnovers. First was Tyler Bozak's patented beautiful shorthanded goal, which, apart from his finish on the breakaway, was a carbon copy of the play here. Really, he has to be the Leafs' most dangerous player shorthanded -- maybe even at both ends. Later, it was Peter Holland who scored an absolutely beautiful goal off a Gustav Nyqvist turnover. A fantastic, in-flight, short-side shot on a partial breakaway gave the Leafs some insurance. Bozak added another goal in an empty net to finish things off.
A few other notes on the game:
- At this point, it's tough to say which is the Leafs' second line. Is it Kadri between Komarov and Santorelli? Or is it Holland with Clarkson and Winnik? In any event, Holland's line had a rough time in terms of possession stats, though his beautiful goal will probably make most people forget about that.
- Kadri just can't seem to buy a goal. Squeezing the stick, bounces, regression, blah blah blah...
- Mike Johnson commented on HNIC that the Leafs' 4th line was getting some extra ice, but they wound up finishing the game with under 10 minutes played. I know this is common practice for a lot of coaches, but I don't like it.
- Jonathan Bernier had a quiet but effective game. It's not going to be easy for James Reimer to win this crease back.
- Bozak had two goals, but one was shorthanded and the other was an empty-netter, so really, it wasn't a big night for the top line. A bit of scoring from lines 2 and 3 goes a long way.
- Judging by the way that Polak went down, I'll be surprised if he's back soon. Looks like the Leafs will wind up playing Phaneuf on the right side again, and Stuart Percy will get another chance to shine.
- Mike Santorelli is incredibly fast on a straightaway. Even this many games into the season, I still find myself impressed.
- Woof, the Leafs' power play. They struggled to gain the zone a lot, tonight.
- Aside from the play where Tatar scored while Polak lay injured on the ice, the Leafs' penalty kill was effective.