Maple Leafs Beat Red Wings, Earn Top Spot In The Standings

October 19th, 2017 No Comments

Coming off a hard fought 2-0 win against the Washington Capitals Tuesday night the Toronto Maple Leafs headed into their match against the Detroit Red Wings with tons of confidence. Head coach Mike Babcock didn’t mess with his lineup much, but he did opt to make the customary change between the pipes in back-to-back games which saw backup netminder Curtis McIlhenney get his first start of the season.

The Maple Leafs cruised to an early lead with Nazem Kadri netting his fourth of the season at 05:56 of the first period with Zach Hyman quickly following Kadri up with his third goal of the season at 06:39.

Henrik Zetterberg answered for the Red Wings at 12:10 of the first. Austin Matthews scored his sixth at the 15:46 mark and the recently promoted Connor Brown continued with his hot streak, scoring his second in as many nights at the 16:26 mark. When the first period was over, the Leafs emerged with a 4-1 lead and looked to be on cruise control en route to another win.

The Red Wings made it interesting, when Tomas Tatar netted his first of the season at 07:02 of the second period, followed by Jonathan Ericsson’s first at 08:36. And, just like that, Maple Leafs fans were having memories of the New Jersey game and wondering what went wrong. To their credit, the Buds didn’t panic with Morgan Reilly firing his first goal of the season at 12:57 to give the Leafs a two-goal lead.

William Nylander rounded out the scoring at 16:52 of the third, giving the Maple Leafs a solid 6-3 win and top spot in the NHL standings with 12 points through seven games. Not bad for a team that had everyone in a panic after their only loss of the season to New Jersey.

At the end of the night, Zach Hyman, William Nylander, Austin Matthews and Nazem Kadri has two-point nights with a goal and assist apiece. Toronto’s balanced attack has been the class of the NHL early on in the 2017-18 NHL season, reaffirming that the Maple Leafs do not have to have the top rankled defense to win in this league.

Connor Brown had another impressive game, working the corners and making his way to the scoresheet. Of course, we cannot mention Brown without talking about Mitch Marner’s game. Marner had one shot on net, one hit, two takeaways, played 1:12 on the power play and earned 11:21 of ice time, not bad, but he finished the night with a minus-1 rating, so there is still work to do.

Defenseman Nikita Zaitsev continued to look like a bargain, leading all players with 23:30 of icetime, while adding three hits and four blocked shots. For his part, McIlhinney looked good, keeping his team in the game all night, stopping 30 of 33 shots, earning his first victory of the season.

Next up, the Maple Leafs will travel to Ottawa to face Erik Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. It should be a great tilt, with both teams renewing their Ontario rivalry.

 

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