1. Marchenko nets first as a Leaf - and against his former team - to put Toronto ahead early. The Leafs were seeking to end a five-game losing streak Tuesday and were strong at the start of the night, pressuring the Red Wings early and getting rewarded for it when blueliner Alexey Marchenko scored his first goal in a Toronto uniform just 1:07 into the opening period to put the Buds ahead 1-0.
Marchenko, who was acquired off waivers from Detroit in early February, was playing in his sixth game as a Leaf, and the goal was his first of the year and fourth of his NHL career in his 116th regular-season games. The 25-year-old played 20:01 against the L.A. Kings on March 2, and his confidence within head coach Mike Babcock's system is growing.
Video: DET@TOR: van Riemsdyk beats Mrazek for a PPG
2. Leafs' power play clicks quickly as van Riemsdyk reaches 20-goal plateau. Toronto wasn't content with their one-goal lead early in the first frame, forcing the Wings into taking two minor penalties in the first eight minutes of the contest. And on the first man advantage, the Leafs increased their lead thanks to winger James van Riemsdyk, who scored his 20th goal of the season at the 6:38 mark.
The 27-year-old van Riemsdyk hit the 20-goal plateau for the fourth time in his eight-year NHL career, and ended a 14-game goal drought Tuesday. He's also a valuable power play contributor: the goal was his 16th point (out of a total of 49 points so far this year) and gave the home side some breathing room entering the second period.
Video: DET@TOR: Kadri roofs a wrister by Mrazek to pad lead
3. Kadri adds to Toronto's lead, draws closer to matching career high in points. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen was sharp in the first period and prevented Detroit from cutting into his team's lead, and in the second, Toronto's defense helped him out, keeping the Wings from registering a shot on net through the first 16:13 of the frame. Meanwhile, at the other end, the Buds extended their lead to three goals when centre Nazem Kadri took a pass from William Nylander at the visitor's goal line and rifled a shot past netminder Petr Mrazek at the 5:49 mark to make it 3-0 for the Leafs.
Kadri's goal was his 27th of the year - now seven goals better than his previous career-best of 20 - and his 49th point of the season. He's one point away from tying his career high in that department, and the 26-year-old will almost certainly demolish that number with relative ease in the coming weeks.
4. Nyquist gets Wings on scoreboard with 37.8 seconds left in second, adds second of the game 36 seconds into third. The Wings managed only five shots on Andersen in the middle frame, but one of them came when winger Gustav Nyquist was left all alone in front of Toronto's net, and he beat Andersen between the legs to register Detroit's first goal of the game with 37.8 seconds left before the second intermission. Then, just 36 seconds into the third, Nyquist added his second of the night and ninth of the year to pull the Wings within one.
Toronto did a stellar job in keeping the quality of the Wings' scoring chances low for the grand majority of the period, but Nyquist's markers proved once again that any NHL team can produce offence in an eye's blink if the defensive structure isn't there. As a result, the Leafs entered the final 19 minutes of regulation time with a much smaller advantage than they enjoyed for most of the second.
5. Detroit pushes, but Leafs hang on, snap losing skid. The Leafs were on their heels for a good deal of the final period and Detroit outshot them 10-6 in the last 20 minutes, but Andersen shut the door and Toronto battled hard along the walls to keep the Wings from tying it late and forcing overtime.
The Buds' win gave them a much-needed two standings points to stay in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and with the Philadelphia Flyers headed to the ACC Thursday for another crucial contest, the Leafs have some momentum in their favour. That said, Toronto's possession game has room to improve, and their play at the start and end of periods will be a focus for Babcock and his coaching staff. Simply put, the kind of lapses they saw at the end of the second and start of the third need to be eliminated for the Leafs to enjoy continued success.