Toronto’s youngsters impress but fall short to Red Wings NHL lineup in preseason finale: Maple Leafs postgame
Photo credit:Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
By Joseph Zita1 month ago
Tonight was Toronto’s turn to play their AHL-heavy lineup and Detroit’s turn to play their NHL-heavy lineup as both teams played their eighth and final game of the preseason schedule.
After squeaking out an overtime win with a strong lineup the last time these two teams played, the Maple Leafs took a trip to the Motor City to see if their AHL-heavy lineup could replicate that performance and pick up their fifth win in their preseason finale.
The first period was a bit of a snooze fest.
It was the Red Wings vs. the Marlies, and I thought Toronto was going to be on their heels in that period, but it was a little closer in terms of play, in my opinion.
Both teams were held without a goal as the Red Wings had the advantage in shots 8-6, with Toronto receiving a late power-play in the frame due to a Dylan Larkin penalty.
However, the highlight of the period was probably the delay with Joseph Woll’s left pad, which took a handful of minutes to fix beside the bench.
With Toronto on an abbreviated power-play to start the second period, they began the middle frame how they ended the first, generating chances. Although they were on the man advantage, they failed to score, but that didn’t stop them from hemming the Red Wings in their zone even after the power-play expired.
After Larkin came out of the penalty box, Sam Lafferty had one of their best chances so far in the game as he one-timed the puck off the inside of the post and out.
With Toronto controlling the majority of the play so far in the second period, it was Max Ellis who broke the ice and opened the scoring as he went one-on-one with Moritz Seider, shot one from distance and beat Ville Husso.
However, the scoring didn’t stop there for the Maple Leafs.
Ellis, who had seemed to make Moritz Seider upset on that first goal, ate about five cross-checks to the side of the body by him before he made his way to the front of the net and out-muscled Seider as a Tommy Miller point shot deflected off Seider’s leg and in.
But just because Toronto went out to a 2-0 lead in quick succession didn’t mean Detroit wasn’t going down without a fight, especially given it’s their NHL-heavy lineup against basically the Toronto Marlies.
I expected Detroit to get back in this game with all the talent on that side compared to Toronto’s, but I didn’t expect it to come in rapid succession like it did to close out the second period.
The Red Wings scored three goals in 2:28 and turned a late 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead entering the third period.
After allowing the Red Wings to get back into this game with their three goals in 2:28 of play, Toronto didn’t do themselves any favours as an early penalty from Mikko Kokkonen put Detroit on the man advantage for the third time tonight.
The Maple Leafs did a good enough job to kill the power-play off, but just seconds after Kokkonen exited the penalty box, Daniel Sprong settled a bobbling puck and ripped one over Woll’s right shoulder to give his team the two-goal lead.
All it took for Detroit to get their feet moving was to get on the scoresheet and look like the better team against an AHL team. Before they got on the board, they didn’t look all that dangerous and could argue that Toronto controlled most of the play for the first 35-ish minutes of the game.
After scoring three quick goals and getting a fourth in the third period, Detroit looked like the better team and continued to apply the pressure, but a late power-play goal from Sam Lafferty cut the deficit in half, and Toronto almost mounted a late two-goal comeback but ultimately fell short and finished their preseason with a 4-3 loss.
Who stood out:
It was the Max Ellis show in the second period.
As mentioned above, he outplayed Detroit’s best defenseman and one of the best young defensemen in the NHL on both of Toronto’s goals.
He’s not the biggest guy out there, but that didn’t stop him from going to the dirty areas to reward himself and his team. He honestly made a strong case tonight to be in the conversation of potential call-ups to the Maple Leafs when needed.
Aside from allowing four goals, I thought Joseph Woll had a pretty solid game.
You can’t fault him on the first goal because of how many bounces it took before it ended up in his net. The second goal was a bomb from the point that had many players in front of him, and he couldn’t see. Maybe you’d like him to have that third goal, but it took a bounce of a Maple Leaf skate in front of the net, and Veleno ripped it top shelf.
The fourth goal was also an absolute snipe from Sprong that beat him blocker-side over his shoulder.
He also made brilliant saves in the third period when his team was down multiple goals.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in action next Wednesday at home when they open up their season hosting the Montreal Canadiens. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT on Sportsnet.
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