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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Red Wings - 09/30/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 3-2 pre-season shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings Saturday at Ricoh Coliseum:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

Fehr opens scoring on a tip-in

DET@TOR: Fehr deflects LoVerde's blast past Mrazek

Eric Fehr cuts into the slot redirects and redirects Vincent LoVerde's drive past Petr Mrazek, giving the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead in the 1st

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1. McElhinney makes big stop on Wings shorthanded breakaway, Fehr puts Leafs up on power play. Toronto was coming off a 4-2 win over the Red Wings Friday in Detroit, but it was a drastically different lineup for both sides that took to the ice at a jam-packed Ricoh; for the most part, each side's lineup was comprised mostly of prospects and young NHLers, but both goalies that started the game - Curtis McElhinney for the Buds, and Petr Mrazek for the Wings - have in the area of 150 appearances at hockey's top level, so neither squad was getting anything handed to them.

McElhinney made the first big stop of the evening, turning aside a shorthanded breakaway opportunity by Justin Abdelkader some seven minutes into the contest. And before Toronto's power play had ended, blueliner Vincent LoVerde's shot from the point was redirected by centre Eric Fehr and past Mrazek at the 8:31 mark to put the Buds ahead 1-0.

The Leafs started the night on a five-game win streak, and although a variety of lineups and line and pairing combinations got them there, Saturday's group used their speed to dominate the shots on net battle in the opening frame (Toronto had 14, while Detroit had eight) and McElhinney's timely stop prevented the visitors from capitalizing on one of the few major scoring opportunities they had.

Video: DET@TOR: McElhinney stones Abdelkader on breakaway

2. McElhinney continues strong play in second as Toronto keeps Wings on their heels. McElhinney's performance has improved as the pre-season has played out, and in the second frame Saturday he made two huge stops early on: one on another breakaway (albeit a shorter one) by Abdelkader that followed a Leafs turnover, and a left pad save on forward Matt Lorito that was his best of the night to that point. The veteran looked assured and dialed-in, and his teammates fed off that confidence to pressure Detroit into multiple penalties in the middle frame.

McElhinney hasn't had a full season with the Leafs organization yet, but the 34-year-old signed a two-year contract with Toronto this summer and looks set to assert himself as a reliable understudy to starter Frederik Andersen.

3. Leafs can't convert on slew of power play chances; Wings tie game on man advantage late in second frame. For the most part, the Leafs continued to pressure Detroit through the second period, and their persistence resulted in a steady stream of Wings players to the penalty box. Toronto received a whopping five power plays in the frame - giving them seven through 40 minutes of action - but couldn't score a second goal on Mrazek, or a first goal on Jared Coreau, who replaced Mrazek midway through the period.

Then, with Leafs blueliner Travis Dermott in the penalty box (his second penalty of the period) with 39 seconds left until the second intermission, Detroit finally was able to solve McElhinney: forward Michael Rasmussen netted his fourth goal of the pre-season with 31 seconds left, and the teams headed into the final regulation period tied at a goal apiece.

The Wings outshot Toronto 11-9 in the period, and the Buds needed McElhinney to keep them from having to dig out of a hole, but the Leafs still had a solid shot at winning this one and finishing their pre-season schedule with their sixth straight victory.

Video: DET@TOR: Dermott nets the late equalizer for Leafs

4. Detroit turns up heat on Leafs in third, take late-period lead - but Toronto sends game to overtime on Dermott's marker. The penalty troubles the Wings found themselves in during the second period became Toronto's troubles in the third, and although the Leafs had a handful of solid chances to take the lead, Detroit did a good job of collapsing in front of their net and limiting the home side to just seven shots in the period.

Detroit looked to have had the game won when Lorito scored with 2:51 remaining in regulation, but Leafs head coach Mike Babcock pulled McElhinney for the extra man, and the move paid off: Dermott's shot from the blueline found its way through traffic and past Coreau for the tying goal with 69 seconds left in the period. That sent the crowd of 8,811 into an eruption of joy, and was a great way to reward McElhinney for his outstanding play.

5. Overtime solves nothing, and Wings get shootout win on goals from two of three shooters; Leafs now set sights on kickoff of regular season in Winnipeg. The Leafs dominated the extra frame, but were unable to get the game-winner - and when the shootout took place, Detroit took the win by getting goals from winger P-A Parenteau and Lorito. Toronto got a goal from Fehr, but neither winger Nikita Soshnikov nor D-man Connor Carrick could beat Coreau to extend the shootout process to a fourth round.

The loss ended Toronto's pre-season schedule on a down note, but the Leafs did win five of eight games and there was much for Leafs Nation to like in that span. The onus now is on Babcock, GM Lou Lamoriello and the rest of the team's brass to make decisions regarding the roster that will start the season for the Buds, whose first regular-season game is Oct. 4 in Winnipeg. The good news is the play of many Leafs players is going to make those decisions extremely difficult, but the better news is Toronto has sufficient depth now to give coaches and management a wealth of options once the year begins.
 

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