Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek on coming into the game cold. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Toronto — One area that hasn’t been a problem so far for the Red Wings has been goaltending.
That changed Wednesday, in a 6-3 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto, as just making a save became an issue.
Jimmy Howard started but allowed three goals on four shots, then was replaced by Petr Mrazek, who allowed the first goal he faced before settling down, as the Red Wings couldn’t overcome the off night.
“There were some funny kind of goals,” said coach Jeff Blashill, not putting the entire blame on the goaltending. “I don’t know if it was all on them. Some of it was it was one of those nights where it kind of goes in for them. We did tons of good stuff and had a lot of moments, especially in the first (period) where we carried the play.
“But everything they seemed to throw at the net went in.”
Mrazek, after allowing a goal on the first shot he saw, settled down and stopped 19 of 21 overall.
“As a second goalie you have to be ready on the bench, but it’s never easy to go in,” Mrazek said. “You’re cold and they’re playing fast and hard, and after the goals, they got momentum.
“The first shot went in, it got through three or four guys and off the post, but after that, we played real well.”
The Red Wings (4-3-0, 8 points) lost their second consecutive game in what was a supposed to be a litmus test to their quick start this season.
Toronto, one of the better teams in the NHL, is 6-1-0 (12 points).
Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Tatar and Jonathan Ericsson scored Red Wings goals, while Nick Jensen had three assists and Dylan Larkin two.
Nazem Kadri, Zach Hyman (Michigan), Auston Matthews, Connor Brown, Morgan Rielly (power play) and William Nylander (empty net) answered for the Leafs.
Tatar and Ericsson scored 1:34 apart midway in the second period — both getting their first goals of the season — getting the Red Wings to within 4-3.
“It’s not fun when that happens but it’s part of the game,” Zetterberg said of the quick hole. “It happens sometimes. We just had to kind of put that aside and keep doing what we were doing and we played good.”
Tatar scored at 7:02 — his 100th career goal — putting back his own rebound past goalie Curtis McElhinney, who was making his first start of the season.
Ericsson cut the Toronto lead to 4-3 at 8:36 with a shot from the point that flew past McElhinney.
Originally, Ericsson’s goal was ruled no goal because of goalie interference on Justin Abdelkader.
Tomas Tatar talks about the Red Wings' loss to the Maple Leafs. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
But video replay overturned the call into an Ericsson goal, video showing Abdelkader, if anything, had a fine screen in front of McElhinney.
The Red Wings were right back in the game, but Rielly’s power play goal restored the two-goal lead for Toronto at 12:57.
“It’s a one-shot game, we’re playing good hockey at that point, I think we’re winning the game, and we take a penalty and they score on a seeing-eye shot from the point,” Blashill said.
Blashill wasn’t entirely satisfied with some sloppiness, nor with an 0-for-3 performance on the power play.
“The process on the power play has been good for large parts of the season but we need to get results,” Blashill said. “Same thing goes with our team. The process Monday (a loss to Tampa) was very good. In large parts the process was good (Wednesday) but we have to eliminate some mental errors.
“We have to make sure all 20 guys are going but we also have to get results. The urgency has to be real high come Friday (against Washington).”