LEAFS JUMP OUT TO EARLY LEAD ON KAPANEN'S 11TH GOAL OF SEASON
Trying to continue a season-high five-game win streak, the Maple Leafs looked strong to start Thursday's home tilt against the Red Wings, and Toronto generated the game's first goal just 4:50 into the first period when winger Kasperi Kapanen finished off a fine passing sequence:
Video: DET@TOR: Kapanen taps one in from the doorstep
Andreas Johnsson and Jake Gardiner picked up the assists on the play, and Kapanen scored his 11th goal and 20th point in 29 games this season. Toronto looked to have created some momentum for itself on the play, but that was short-lived, as the Wings would soon show.
WINGS ANSWER BACK WITH THREE GOALS BEFORE FIRST INTERMISSION
The Wings had lost two in a row coming into Scotiabank Arena Thursday, but they've proven to be a streaky squad thus far this year, winning and losing in bunches. And after Kapanen's goal put them on their heels early, they pushed back with force, scoring the game-tying marker 33 seconds later, then taking their first lead of the night at the 6:28 mark.
Detroit had only one more shot than the Leafs did in the opening frame, but the Wings added their third goal of the game with 14 seconds before the first intermission. And suddenly, it was the visitors who had the Leafs trying to dig out of a hole.
DETROIT GETS LONE GOAL OF SECOND FRAME, EXTENDS ADVANTAGE TO THREE
The Leafs haven't had many periods this season that an observer could call "flat", but with just five shots on Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier in the second period, an observer definitely could say Toronto wasn't as sharp at the offensive end as it has been.
That lack of execution opened the door for Detroit to extend their lead, and that's what they did at the 11:07 mark of the middle period when blueliner Mike Green beat netminder Garret Sparks with a shot from the blueline for his third goal of the year.
The Wings carried a 4-1 advantage into the third, and the challenge to come back was on. And, to the delight of Leafs Nation, the Buds began the third frame energized and focused.
TAVARES STRIKES EARLY IN THIRD, CUTS WINGS' LEAD IN HALF
The difference in the Leafs' play in the third was noticeable from the opening puck drop, and Toronto quickly struck to cut the Wings' lead to 4-2 at 2:38 of the frame on centre John Tavares' team-leading 18th goal of the season:
Video: DET@TOR: Tavares buries wrister from the circle
Tavares' goal was his fourth in his past six games, as well as his 32nd point of the year. It also energized the crowd at Scotiabank Arena, and helped Toronto get out to a 10-3 advantage in the shots department in the frame.
HYMAN, JOHNSSON SCORE WITHIN THREE-MINUTE SPAN OF THIRD TO TIE GAME
The Leafs did not relent as the third period unfolded, pressuring the Wings throughout the frame. And wingers Zach Hyman and Andreas Johnsson scored within a three-minute span midway through the frame to pull Toronto even at the 11:36 mark.
First, Hyman scored the Buds' third goal of the night (and his seventh of the year) when he stopped a shot from D-man Igor Ozhiganov in front of Bernier, then put it in himself at 8:50:
Video: DET@TOR: Hyman tips point shot, beats Bernier
Then, 2:46 later, Johnsson grabbed the puck after centre Auston Matthews fired it into Detroit's zone and it caromed off the end boards, and almost instantaneously ripped it past Bernier to even the score at four goals apiece:
Video: DET@TOR: Johnsson cleans up carom off the boards
Because of the Leafs' resilience, what looked to be an insurmountable Wings lead in the second frame suddenly was a clean slate. And with neither side netting the game-winner in regulation - although Detroit came close when forward Dylan Larkin hit the post with 8.3 seconds left in the third - the game went to overtime.
LARKIN NETS GAME-WINNER IN OT, BUT LEAFS EARN IMPORTANT STANDINGS POINT
The NHL's 3-on-3 overtime guarantees a lot of odd-man rushes, and although Toronto came close to winning it, the Wings got a breakaway goal from Larkin with 2:12 left in OT to win it. However, the Buds did earn an important standings point, and they'll have little time to worry about the loss, as they head to Boston Saturday to square off against the always-tough Bruins.