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game recap

Helm leads Wings past Leafs

Saturday, 10.01.2011 / 9:55 PM

Neil Acharya - NHL.com Correspondent

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Helm leads Wings past Leafs
Detroit Red Wings 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 2
DETROIT -- Darren Helm's speed and skill was on full display for the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.

Helm was indeed a spark plug as he played a role in Detroit's first three goals -- including the eventual game winner by Patrick Eaves -- as the Wings skated away with a 4-2 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.

The Wings' power play was clicking on all cylinders as it went 3-for-4 on the night.

Detroit opened the scoring just over midway through the first, when Helm picked up the loose puck along the boards just over center Ice and went hard to the to the net, blowing past John-Michael Liles. Helm's shot from in close was stopped by James Reimer, but Justin Abdelkader got to the loose puck by out positioning Jake Gardiner to put home the rebound for his first goal of the preseason.

Helm's quickness factored in again on his wraparound tally on the power play, which gave Detroit a 2-0 lead.

"I got the chance to play on the power play for the first time in a long, long time tonight and it was good that our group made well on our chances," Helm said. "Using my speed is a big part of my success. Millsy (Drew Miller) made a great play up the wall and I was able to use my speed down the wing get a shot on net. I saw Abdelkader coming down he was able to bang it in. On the second one, I saw Reimer out of his net a little bit and I was able to take a couple of quick steps and wrap it around."

Wings coach Mike Babcock was impressed with the play of his squad, especially the speedy Helm.

"He was the best player on the ice," Babcock said. "He brought energy, he brought skill … he was good on the power play, good on the penalty kill. The growth of our team is going to come from those guys -- the Abdelkader's, the Helm's.  (Pavel) Datsyuk, (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Nicklas) Lidstrom are what they are. These other guys got to continually evolve, and I thought Helm was great tonight." 

The Leafs cut the deficit in half in the dying minutes of the first. With Garnet Exelby in the penalty box, Liles blasted a shot past Wings goalie Ty Conklin. Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin assisted on the goal.

Grabovski was later hit by a puck and did not return.

"We just didn't seem to have any legs, especially when Grabo went down," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "We were getting our way back into the game, but at that point it didn't look good, after he went down.

"The plan was to keep some lines together, but that didn't work out due to some minor little injuries. We had to move some things around, so practice this week will be important."

The Wings' power play struck again at the halfway point of the middle period, as rookie Tomas Tatar netted his first of the preseason from the lip of the crease, where he was spotted by Patrick Eaves. Nicklas Kronwall got his second assist of the night on the play.

Conklin was solid when tested throughout the evening, as he stopped 20 of 22 shots including a couple of dazzling saves ones in the third, the first off of the stick of Phil Kessel early in the third and then again on Mike Komisarek, who charged in from the point with just over 7 minutes remaining.

"I thought we have played pretty well for the most part during the preseason," Liles said. "Obviously tonight, we didn't have our best game, our strongest effort, but thankfully it's not a game that counts for points. We will regroup, get back to practice on Monday and get ready for Thursday (against Montreal)."

The loss concluded the Leafs' preseason, as they finished with a record of 4-4. Meanwhile, the Wings will play their third straight contest on Sunday against Pittsburgh at Joe Louis Arena.

scoring summary
1st Period
12:29
DET
Justin Abdelkader (1) Snap shot - ASST: Darren Helm (1), Drew Miller (1)
1 - 0 DET
17:30
DET
PPG - Darren Helm (1) Wrap-around - ASST: Brad Stuart (1), Patrick Eaves (1)
2 - 0 DET
18:34
TOR
PPG - John-Michael Liles (1) Tip-in - ASST: Nikolai Kulemin (1), Mikhail Grabovski (1)
2 - 1 DET
2nd Period
02:47
DET
PPG - Patrick Eaves (1) Backhand shot - ASST: Niklas Kronwall (1), Darren Helm (2)
3 - 1 DET
04:12
TOR
Joey Crabb (1) Snap shot - ASST: Colby Armstrong (1), Michael Zigomanis (1)
3 - 2 DET
10:13
DET
PPG - Tomas Tatar (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Patrick Eaves (2), Niklas Kronwall (2)
4 - 2 DET
3rd Period
NONE
penalty summary
1st Period
04:34
TOR
Mike Brown  Fighting (maj)  - 5 min against  Garnet Exelby
04:34
DET
Garnet Exelby  Fighting (maj)  - 5 min against  Mike Brown
04:34
DET
Garnet Exelby served by Jiri Hudler  Holding  - 2 min against  Mike Brown
15:44
TOR
Colby Armstrong  Roughing  - 2 min against  Jakub Kindl
18:28
DET
Garnet Exelby  Boarding  - 2 min against  Nikolai Kulemin
2nd Period
02:18
TOR
Colby Armstrong  Tripping  - 2 min against  Cory Emmerton
09:34
TOR
Keith Aulie  Hooking  - 2 min against  Darren Helm
12:27
TOR
Philippe Dupuis  Hooking  - 2 min against  Fabian Brunnstrom
3rd Period
09:50
TOR
Jay Rosehill  Roughing  - 2 min against  Garnet Exelby
09:50
DET
Garnet Exelby  Roughing  - 2 min against  Jay Rosehill
09:50
TOR
Jay Rosehill served by Joffrey Lupul  Roughing  - 2 min against  Garnet Exelby
12:45
DET
Brad Stuart  Tripping  - 2 min against  John-Michael Liles
16:24
TOR
Michael Zigomanis  Hooking  - 2 min against  Ryan Johnson
16:56
DET
Fabian Brunnstrom  Tripping  - 2 min against  Colby Armstrong
goalie stats
Ty Conklin
SA: 22TOI: 59:43
GA: 2SV%: .909
James Reimer
SA: 26TOI: 58:35
GA: 4SV%: .846