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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Red Wings - 10/18/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday at Air Canada Centre:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

Kadri's short side snipe

DET@TOR: Kadri opens scoring with slick wrister

Nazem Kadri receives a pass at the blue line and skates to the faceoff dot before burying a wrist shot, opening the scoring in the 1st period

  • 00:51 •

1. Leafs take a while to register first shot on net, but make first two count to take early lead. Although they had a couple of solid scoring chances early, the Leafs didn't get their first shot on Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard until nearly six minutes into the first period. However, centre Nazem Kadri made that first shot meaningful, putting a wrister high over Howard's shoulder on the short side and into the net for his fourth goal of the season and a 1-0 Toronto lead at the 5:56 mark.

Air Canada Centre announcer Mike Ross was in the middle of announcing Kadri's goal when the Buds boosted their lead: this time, blueliner Morgan Rielly's shot went off the skate of winger Zach Hyman and past Howard just 43 seconds after Kadri scored, and the Leafs led by a pair of goals at 6:39. Toronto only had two shots at that point, but both of them went in and the visitors were digging out of a hole before they knew it. 

Video: DET@TOR: Matthews nets wrister after nice move

2. Wings cut lead on Zetterberg goal, but Toronto gets more offense, chases Howard from net. The Wings came into Wednesday's game with a 4-2-0 record and a 3-1-1 road mark, and despite going down by two goals, they peppered Leafs netminder Curtis McElhinney with 10 shots in the first 20 minutes. One of those came at the end of a slick wraparound play from centre Henrik Zetterberg, who scored his fourth goal of the year at 12:10 of the frame to cut Toronto's lead in half.

But that didn't stop the Leafs from making the most of their opportunities: 3:36 after Zetterberg made it 2-1, centre Auston Matthews used Detroit blueliner Trevor Daley as a screen and fired a wrist shot past Howard for his sixth of the year and a 3-1 Buds lead. That spelled the end of the evening for Howard, who was pulled in favour of backup Petr Mrazek. But 40 seconds after Matthews' team-leading marker, winger Connor Brown netted his third of the season - and second in as many nights - to give the home team a three-goal advantage with 3:34 left in the period.

Toronto's offence has quickly established itself as one of the most potent in the NHL, and the first period - in which the Leafs scored on four of five total shots - was another indication of how dangerous they are with the puck.

3. Detroit doesn't quit after sub-par first, pulls within one midway through second frame. The Leafs used a pair of quick-burst offensive conversions to build a healthy lead through one period, but the Wings got a rapid-fire burst of their own toward the middle of the second to cut Toronto's lead to a single goal by the 8:36 mark. Detroit's second of the game came from winger Tomas Tatar, who knocked in his own rebound for his first of the season at 7:02, and defenceman Jonathan Ericsson put a shot from the point through traffic and past McElhinney 64 seconds later to make it 4-3 for the Buds.

Toronto wasn't especially engaged defensively on either play, and although Ericsson's marker was initially called goaltender interference, the Wings challenged the play and had the call reversed. Buds head coach Mike Babcock has spoken during the year about his team's inconsistent effort in their own zone, and that issue became a problem for them again in the middle frame.

Video: DET@TOR: Rielly buries PPG through traffic in front

4. Rielly restores two-goal advantage for Leafs with first marker of the year. Toronto's energy surged back to first-period levels after Ericsson's goal, and after drawing their first power play of the night, the Leafs restored a two-goal lead at 12:57 of the second when Rielly registered his first of the year on a shot from the point that went through traffic and beat Mrazek. As was the case on the Ericsson goal, the officials on the ice waved it off due to goalie interference, but a very quick video review after Babcock challenged it resulted in the call being reversed and the goal counted.

The Leafs finished the middle frame leading 5-3 - and tied with the Wings in shots 17-17 - but as the Wings showed, they could get right back into it in a very short span.

Video: DET@TOR: McElhinney seals post to stuff Mantha

5. McElhinney holds the fort as Toronto extends win streak to three games. In comparison to the first two periods, the third was a lower-risk affair, though the Wings grew increasingly desperate in the second half of the frame and began putting a notable amount of pressure on McElhinney. However, the veteran responded well, preventing Detroit from scoring on any of their 15 shots in the period and securing Toronto's third consecutive victory.

Winger William Nylander added an empty-net goal for the Leafs, giving each member of the Nylander-Matthews-Hyman line a marker and boosting the Buds' confidence as they turn their attention to their next game - a Saturday-night tilt in Ottawa against the provincial rival Senators. Toronto has won six of their first seven games for the seventh time in the franchise's 100-year history, and they're winning both low-scoring games (as they did Tuesday in their 2-0 win over Washington) and contests with a slew of goals. They've still got room to improve, but Toronto is finding ways to win, and that's terrific news for Leafs Nation.
 

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