TORONTO - Richard Panik
's highlight-reel goal, backed by a solid showing by Jonathan Bernier
in goal, lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.
James van Riemsdyk, Morgan Rielly and Nazem Kadri, with an empty-netter at 16:46 of the third period, also scored for Toronto, which beat the Wings 2-1 in a shootout Wednesday in Detroit despite being outshot 42-19.
Panik's goal proved to be the winner, putting the Leafs up 2-1 at 17:50 of the second period. Defenceman Korbinian Holzer found Panik all alone with a long pass after a Detroit turnover in the Toronto end and the fourth-liner beat Petr Mrazek between the legs with a gorgeous breakaway move for his sixth of the season.
Panik punctuated the game with a late fight, hammering away at Brendan Smith as the Wings defenceman's head was entangled by his jersey. He had taken umbrage at a Smith slash.
Niklas Kronwall scored for Detroit, which lost despite scoring first, dominating the faceoff circle and getting a fine performance from backup goalie Mrazek.
Toronto (17-9-3) has now won four straight and is 8-1-1 since a 9-2 home loss to Nashville on Nov. 18. During that time they have outscored their opposition 41-23.
Detroit (17-7-7) has lost three straight, a streak that includes shootout defeats to the Leafs and the visiting Florida Panthers (3-2 on Friday in Detroit).
The Leafs, who had been off since their victory Wednesday, win the season series with the Wings with a 3-1-1 record.
Toronto hosts the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in a rare 5 p.m. ET start Sunday.
Mrazek made his fourth start of the season — his first career outing against Toronto — as the Wings rested Jimmy Howard after playing Friday. Mrazek, a 22-year-old former Ottawa 67 playing his 15th NHL game, is filling in for the injured Jonas Gustavsson.
James Reimer had been expected to start for Toronto after excelling Wednesday in Detroit but he tweaked his groin in practice. Bernier made his 10th start in 11 games.
Toronto started well but Detroit came on as the first period progressed before a crowd of 19,063 at the Air Canada Centre.
The line of Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Tatar and Darren Helm played keepaway in the Leafs zone midway through the first period before Bernier made a highlight-reel stop that had the ACC crowd chanting his name.
Detroit went ahead at 15:27 on a Kronwall one-timer from the blue-line with van Riemsdyk off for holding. Kronwall's fifth of the season was helped by traffic in front of Bernier.
Toronto answered on the power play at 16:27 with a Phil Kessel snap shot that went in off van Riemsdyk in front of the goal for his 12th off the season.
Both teams had 12 shots in a first period that saw Detroit win the faceoff battle 17-4.
Detroit started the second period on the power play but it was Mrazek who had to be sharp to stop Peter Holland with his glove to deny the Leafs their seventh short-handed goal of the season.
The Wing goalie made a spectacular save, flat on his back after stopping a Dion Phaneuf slapshot midway through the period with the Leafs on the power play. The rebound went to Cody Franson and somehow Mrazek got a piece of his body or equipment to the shot to redlrect the puck off the post and away.
Toronto, who came into the game with a league-leading 40 goals in the second period, outshot Detroit 20-5 in the second period.
Rielly used his speed to make it 3-1 at 1:42 of the third period, racing down the wing before beating Mrazek to the glove side for his fourth of the season.
NOTES: Trevor Smith came in for Brandon Kozun for the Leafs ... The Wings were without veteran centre Stephen Weiss, who left Friday's game with an upper body injury. Defenceman Danny DeKeyser was also out after suffering an upper-body injury Wednesday ... Saturday's game was the 653rd all-time meeting between the Original Six teams. It was also the 899th game coached by Detroit's Mike Babcock.
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