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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Red Wings - 01/01/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 5-4 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings Sunday at Exhibition Stadium:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

1. Leafs, Wings both look tentative to start in a scoreless first period. Playing in front of a massive outdoor crowd of 40,148, the Leafs and Red Wings took few high-risk chances in the opening period, and neither side was able to beat the opposition's goaltender. Toronto outshot Detroit 10-9 in the frame, but the quality of scoring opportunities wasn't overly taxing on either Buds netminder Frederik Andersen or his counterpart at the other end, Jared Coreau.

2. Detroit strikes first thanks to Mantha's blast early in second frame. The teams continued the same type of low-risk approach in the middle period, but the Wings took the first lead of the day when winger Anthony Mantha took a pass from captain Henrik Zetterberg and wired it over the shoulder of Andersen at the 5:33 mark. The Leafs came close to evening things up on a couple occasions - blueliner Jake Gardiner hit the post on a Buds power play midway through the frame - but Detroit maintained their one-goal advantage heading into the third. 

These teams play a very similar style of game, and it was clear both sides wanted to minimize the potential for quick-transition chances the other way. That may not have lead to the most entertaining action, but in a crucial divisional matchup, the focus is on capitalizing on the other side's mistakes and ensuring the opposition has as few of them to capitalize on as possible.

Video: DET@TOR: Komarov punches home Gardiner's great feed

3. Komarov drives to the net, tips in Gardiner feed to pull Toronto even. Winger Leo Komarov had played a robust all-around game through the first two periods, logging 14:38 of ice time - a team-high among Toronto forwards - and registering a game-high five hits. And at the 1:23 mark of the third, he contributed in the best way: by tipping a Jake Gardiner feed past Coreau for his sixth goal of the season and a 1-1 tie.

Komarov's willingness to engage physically was important against a Wings squad that needs to grind out victories, and he was rewarded for his hard work by driving the net and giving his side a momentum boost they'd soon build on.

Video: DET@TOR: Marner carves through defense for superb PPG

4. Three-goal quick burst from Leafs' youngsters helps Buds surge ahead midway through third. After Komarov's goal opened the third period - and after an emotional dust-up between Leafs winger Matt Martin and Wings forward Steve Ott - the Leafs took their first lead of the game at 8:23 when winger Mitch Marner took the puck along the boards, danced through Detroit's defense and ripped the puck into the net for his ninth goal of the year and a power play marker.

Then, just 1:11 later - and with Toronto still on the power play - winger Connor Brown snapped home a slick pass from Zach Hyman to record his seventh of the season and increase the Leafs' lead to 3-1. And 2:31 after that, Brown set up centre Auston Matthews beautifully on a 2-on-1 rush that Matthews finished by scoring his team-leading 19th of the year and putting the Buds up by three goals. It was a thoroughly exhilarating stretch that had Leafs Nation exuberant at the turn of events, and it was another indication Toronto's youngsters have the talent and skill to erase an opponent's lead in short order and establish one of their own.

Video: DET@TOR: Matthews wins the game with backhand in OT

5. Wings show resilience after Leafs' trio of goals, tie game with two seconds left in regulation - but Matthews comes through with second of the night for the game-winner. The game wasn't over after the Leafs' three-goal outburst - Detroit blueliner Jonathan Ericsson netted his first of the year at the 13:54 mark of the third, and with Coreau pulled for the extra man, winger Tomas Tatar scored his ninth of the year at 18:14 of the frame and Mantha knocked home his second of the night with just two seconds left to send the contest to extra time. 

However, in a thrilling overtime period, Matthews scored his second of the night and 20th of the year to give his team their fifth consecutive win. It was an incredible end to a picturesque day, and everyone in attendance and watching at home won't soon forget the way it all played out.

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