Coach Jeff Blashill talks about the success of the Red Wings' fourth line. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Detroit — The numerous Toronto Maple Leafs fans had more fun Saturday than the numerous Red Wings fans.
The Leafs used a three-goal third period to defeat the Wings, 5-2, and send the Toronto faithful at Little Caesars Arena home happy.
But it was more than simply the goals, said Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, who felt the Leafs did something the Wings need to do consistently to have a chance of being successful.
“They were really competitive tonight, they outworked us,” Blashill said. “We have to make sure we outcompete and outwork teams. We didn’t outcompete and outwork them tonight.”
The Wings fell to 3-2 for the season, while Toronto rose to 3-2-1.
Jake Muzzin's goal at 13 minutes, 34 seconds in the third period — Muzzin converted a great feed near the hash marks from Dmytro Timashov — gave the Leafs a 4-2 lead.
Trevor Moore added an empty-net goal at 17:47 to cap the scoring.
The Wings' fourth line contributed all the offense, with Jacob de la Rose and Darren Helm scoring goals, Justin Abdelkader assisting on both goals, and de la Rose adding one assist.
“They were our best line,” Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin said. “They played hard, scored big goals, they kept it simple. Speaking for our line, we were forcing plays and there were a lot of turnovers. They got the puck on the net, supported each other, and they were our best line by far.”
That’s two consecutive games the de la Rose line has made an impact offensively and defensively.
“Everybody is buying into who we are and we know what we need to do to be successful as a line,” de la Rose said. “We’re not the most skilled guys on the team, but if we play the right way, we’re going to get chances.”
Alex Kerfoot put Toronto ahead 3-1 at 9:11 of the third period, tapping in a loose puck past goaltender Jimmy Howard (36 saves) at the crease.
But the Wings responded 24 seconds later, with the fourth line producing their second goal of the night.
Abdelkader, from behind the net, found Helm alone in the slot and Helm snapped a shot past goalie Frederik Andersen for Helm's second goal in two games.
Nick Shore opened the Toronto scoring, Timashov knocking Dennis Cholowski off the puck and feeding Shore near the hashmarks.
Mikheyev’s goal was the turning point in some ways.
Toronto forward Kasperi Kapanen flipped a long pass that Mikheyev wheeled past Madison Bowey, and reached the puck near the low circle before Howard got to it.
Mikheyev had a vacant net to shoot into, his second goal this season, with 29.5 seconds left in the second period.
“The goal late, it can hurt, but it doesn’t have to hurt,” Blashill said. “We scored a late goal the other night and we lost.”
It was a rough night for the Taro Hirose-Andreas Athanasiou-Luke Glendening line. Hirose was on the ice for four Toronto goals, Athanasiou and Glendening for three each, and the trio combined for only two shots on net (Athanasiou had none), and no takeaways.
“They weren’t very good tonight,” Blashill said.