Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs’ 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings Sunday at Joe Louis Arena:
Disallowed goals a factor for both sides before consistent Buds effort produces a positive result.
Toronto was the first of the two teams to put the puck past the opposition’s goalie and have the goal disallowed by the officials, but they weren’t the only team. The Leafs thought they’d scored in the opening period when rookie winger Nikita Soshnikov’s shot on Red Wings netminder Petr Mrazek resulted in a big rebound that bounced off forward Ben Smith’s shoulder and into Detroit’s net. Unfortunately for Buds fans, referees ruled Smith batted the puck into the net and the game remained scoreless through 20 minutes.
In the second period, the roles were reversed: at the 3:06 mark of the middle frame, the Red Wings looked as if they’d taken the first lead of the night when forward Luke Glendening scored on Jonathan Bernier. But the officials disallowed that marker as well and for the same reason – namely, that the puck was batted in. However, in the final minute of the second period, winger P-A Parenteau made a tremendous stretch pass from behind Toronto’s blueline to teammate Michael Grabner, springing Grabner on a breakaway that ended with the puck and Grabner in Mrazek’s net, the net off its moorings, and the officials again going to video replay before rendering their final decision.
For a moment, it appeared the Leafs would get either a penalty shot on the play, but because video showed the puck bounce off Grabner’s backside and past the goal line before the net dislodged, the officials called it a good goal to put the visitors up 1-0 with 30 seconds left until the second intermission. It was a nice reward for a Buds squad coming off a 4-0 loss to Ottawa Saturday, and an indication Toronto hasn’t lost its drive even with a playoff berth out of the picture.
Gritty performance by injury-riddled Leafs against playoff-desperate Wings a real positive – especially at this time of year.
The Wings are fighting tooth-and-nail to lock up a playoff berth, so for the Leafs to come out – on the second night of a series of back-to-back road games – and push them competitively the way Toronto did Sunday was a real testament to their focus. And as we all know, the Buds are missing a slew of injured (and key) veterans, making the achievement all the more impressive.
Stellar night for Bernier.
Bernier turned aside each of the 38 Wings shots he saw – including 18 in the third period, when Toronto managed just 8 shots on Mrazek – and although he didn’t always look like he was going to hold the Wings off the scoresheet completely, the veteran battled throughout the game to give his young teammates a chance to win, and wound up posting his eighth victory and third shutout of the season.
Even casual observers of the Leafs know Bernier hasn’t had an ideal year, but he’s remained professional and positive throughout the ups and downs and is providing a great example for youngster Garret Sparks to emulate.
Toronto’s penalty-killers on a roll.
The Leafs killed off all three of Detroit’s power plays Sunday – the fifth consecutive game they’ve gone without surrendering a power play goal. Buds blueliner Martin Marincin led his team in penalty-kill minutes (5:32), but players such as Zach Hyman, Brooks Laich, Grabner and Morgan Rielly also have contributed to the PK. Toronto entered the night with the NHL’s 20th-best penalty-kill unit, and they’re heading toward season’s end looking as consistently good in that department as they have all year.
Valiev’s second NHL game a different experience than his first.
Leafs blueliner Rinat Valiev made his NHL debut Saturday against Ottawa, playing 20 shifts and 14:23 while looking stronger as the game went on. His second NHL game wasn’t as active – he logged only 6:04 of ice time and played just 11 shifts, only one of which came in the third period – but that’s not out of the ordinary for a young blueliner finding his way in this league.
The 20-year-old Russian understands he’s got a lengthy road ahead of him in terms of proving himself at this level, and he’s going to have nights where he’s not rivaling Leafs cornerstone D-man Morgan Rielly for the team’s time-on-ice lead. This second game was just a part of that process.