'Getting old': Red Wings grind, wilt under Maple Leafs' crush

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Toronto — They keep playing hard, the Red Wings do, they keep making opponents sweat and never make it easy.
But the Red Wings keep losing, too.

Saturday was typical of many games lately, the Red Wings playing hard, leading a good portion of the game, controlling the game — but ultimately losing to the talented Maple Leafs 4-3.

Nazem Kadri tapped in Patrick Marleau’s pass off a 2-on-1 rush past goalie Jimmy Howard for the Leafs Kadri’s 29th goal, snapping a 3-3 tie with 7:26 left.

“We did tons of good stuff, for large moments of the game we carried the play,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “They certainly had chances and Jimmy was excellent when they had chances, and we have to limit some of those, we can’t give up that fourth (goal) rush.

“We have to keep grinding here.”

Toronto won its 13th straight game on home ice, and tied the franchise record with 45 victories (45-23-7, 97 points).
The Red Wings (27-37-11, 65 points) are winless in 12 of their last 13 games (1-11-1).

BOX SCORE: Maple Leafs 4, Red Wings 3

“It’s getting old,” said forward Dylan Larkin, who opened the Red Wings’ scoring. “We have seven games left. We have to finish on a positive note and find ways to dig deep and win these games.”

The Red Wings took at 3-2 lead in the third period on Frans Nielsen’s 15th goal at the 5-minute mark.

The goal was originally waved off for goalie interference on Justin Abdelkader. But upon video review on a Wings’ challenge was ruled a goal, Abdelkader skating through the crease but never making contact with goalie Frederik Andersen.

But Toronto quickly tied it, forward William Nylander stripping the puck from Nick Jensen and feeding Auston Matthews, who faked a shot and found Nylander open at the post for Nylander’s 17th goal at 7:27.

“They’re good at forcing turnovers and they get the puck with speed, they have so many skill guys who can make plays,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said.

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Tyler Bertuzzi had the other Red Wing goal while Kasperi Kapanen and Connor Brown had Leafs goals.

The Red Wings dominated the second period, erasing a 1-0 Toronto lead.

Larkin tied it at 4:32 with his 12th goal.

Anthony Mantha found Larkin breaking in alone down the middle of the ice, Toronto defenders caught him, but Larkin unleashed a shot from the top of the hash marks that beat Andersen.

Bertuzzi gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead at 9:37 of the second period, deflecting Danny DeKeyser’s shot from the point for Bertuzzi’s third goal.

“That’s where I have to go (to the front of the net),” said Bertuzzi, who had another impressive night. “I’m just trying to give them (linemates Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist) room and they’ll make good plays.”

The Red Wings killed all four Toronto power plays — the Maple Leafs had scored a power-play goal in seven consecutive games — and outshot the Maple Leafs 41-29.

For most of the game, the Red Wings were the better team.

But, ultimately, the result didn’t show it.

“Just the same thing, it’s Groundhog Day for us right now,” Howard said.