Detroit — With the exhibition season nearing an end and facing an opponent with a full NHL lineup on the ice, Friday was a good opportunity to see where the Red Wings stood.
A 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs showed the Red Wings still have work to do.
Auston Matthews snapped a third-period tie Friday for the Maple Leafs, whom the Red Wings outplayed for the opening 20 minutes — but not so much the final 40.
“They pushed back, obviously, with the one goal in the second (period), it gave them momentum,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We were on our heels a little bit and we stopped skating. The biggest difference between the first and second for me was we were skating great and on the attack (in the first), we weren’t giving up space. We were creating turnovers and playing in the offensive zone.
“In the second, we weren’t moving our feet nearly as much. We were a little bit late.”
Matthews was left alone in front of goalie Jimmy Howard and poked a shot home just 37 seconds into the third period, giving the Maple Leafs a 3-2 lead.
Toronto’s Leo Komarov added an empty-net goal with 16 seconds left to complete the scoring.
Gustav Nyquist and Luke Glendening had Red Wings goals.
The Red Wings are 2-4-1 heading into their final preseason game Saturday in Toronto.
“Definitely a step up in pace for a preseason game,” forward Frans Nielsen said of Friday’s game, which saw both teams play most of their opening night lineups. “You feel the season is right around the corner. It’s a good test for us, but it shows we have a little bit to go here.”
Glendening tied the game with 32 seconds left in the second period, backhanding his own rebound past goalie Frederik Andersen (21 saves).
The goal capped a hard-working shift by Glendening, David Booth (Washington Township) and Ben Street, the fourth line providing energy and offense.
But the Red Wings were 0-for-5 on the power play, a problem that so badly plagued them last season.
“The power play will have to be effective, and our power play wasn’t good enough tonight,” Blashill said.
Mitch Marner (power play) and William Nylander scored for the Maple Leafs.
Marner opened the scoring at 3:42 of the first period with a shot from the top of the circle that appeared to deflect twice before getting past Howard.
But Nyquist tied it 1-1 at 13:09 of the first period, one-timing a shot from the slot off a nice pass from Henrik Zetterberg.
In his preseason debut, Zetterberg played almost 18 minutes and had an assist.
“It felt like the first game in six months,” said Zetterberg, who had neck issues the last two weeks. “My legs were still in Traverse City. But it was OK. The timing, you have to get used to.”
Zetterberg, too, feels the Red Wings will need the upcoming week before the regular season opens Thursday.
“Lots of things,” said Zetterberg, when asked what the team needs to work on. “But the main thing here is just to get together as a group again and have some good practices next week and work on the things we have to work on, and get ready for Game. 1.”