Svechnikov shows promise, Bernier sharp as Leafs down Wings in shootout
Detroit — Just what everyone wanted this late in the exhibition season — a hockey game going all the way to a shootout.
Red Wings fans got to see extra hockey, but it wasn't any more enjoyable, as the Wings lost 4-3 in a shootout to Toronto.
The Leafs defeated the Wings 1-0 in the shootout, with Jeremy Bracco the only goal-scorer.
Toronto outshot the Wings, 37-18, and controlled the game for the majority of the evening, but the goaltending of Jonathan Bernier kept the Wings close.
“More than a little, I was mega disappointed,” coach Jeff Blashill said of his team’s game. “I’m not sure why they had more jump, bite, compete. When we got the puck we weren’t clean with it, and we couldn’t make a tape-to-tape pass.
“They outplayed us by a long shot.”
Toronto's Hudson Elynuik scored a power play goal at 11 minutes, 14 seconds of the third period to break a 2-2 tie.
But Givani Smith tied the game at 18:17, on a nice set-up from Evgeny Svechnikov behind the net, by snapping a shot from in front of the crease.
Svechnikov and Chris Terry also scored for the Wings, while Darren Archibald and Matt Read countered with goals for the Leafs.
Here are some observations from the next-to-last exhibition game:
►Svechnikov’s camp: Having missed all of last season (knee surgery), Svechnikov isn’t going to make the opening night roster. There’s simply too much rust to knock off and get acclimated to playing hockey again.
But Svechnikov has had a promising camp. Friday’s goal was his second of the preseason, and he’s been an agitating presence who hasn’t been afraid to engage physically.
With a goal, an assist, a plus-2 rating, and two hits in 17:27, Svechnikov was arguably the Wings’ best forward.
“He’s played better as he’s gotten a little more comfortable with it (the knee),” Blashill said. “We weren’t good at all tonight but he was one of our best forwards. He cares a lot and wants to be a good player.”
Svechnikov worked diligently during the year rehabilitating and he has been pleased this camp has gone so well.
“Honestly, I’m pretty proud of myself, the work I put in over the year," Svechnikov said. "It was hard, it was real tough and I did it every single day."
►Silent Zadina: Filip Zadina, who is not likely to play Saturday in Toronto, will conclude the exhibition season with no goals, one assist and a minus-3 rating in six games.
Friday against the Leafs, Zadina was again largely quiet, with two shots on net in 19:26 and having little impact.
At his point, there’s little doubt he’ll head back to Grand Rapids, where he needs to regain his confidence. He’s not NHL-ready at the moment.
►Crowd favorite: Smith earned the biggest cheer of the evening for a third-period fight with Toronto’s Tyler Gaudet.
Smith has proven capable of using his size and keeping opponents honest during this preseason.
It was only fitting Smith was rewarded for an eventful evening with the late, game-tying goal.
“He’s done a good job of being a forechecking presence, a net presence and sticking up for his teammates,” Blashill said.
►Bernier’s evening: Bernier was the only reason the Wings weren’t far behind after one period. The Leafs outshot the Wings 16-7 and spent the majority of time in the period in the Wings’ zone.
Bernier was sharp, as he’s been most of the preseason. It’s a good sign heading into the regular season.
“Our goaltending, so far in general, has been a bright spot,” Blashill said. “Bernie was excellent. He kept us in the game. We’ve defended very well, but we didn’t defend great tonight."