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At the Rink: Red Wings at Maple Leafs

by Joe Yerdon

TORONTO -- The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs are each looking to build off recent wins when they face off on Saturday at Air Canada Center.

The Red Wings have won two in a row and three of the past four. They have had a few players get hot during that run. Tomas Tatar has four goals and two assists in the past four games and his linemate Riley Sheahan has two goals and two assists the past three games.

"We're still trying to shoot the pucks and trying to create lots of offense," Tatar said. "We're really happy right now the puck is finding the net and we just have to keep shooting."

Justin Abdelkader is the third member of that line, and he had a goal and an assist in Detroit's 4-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

"The big thing is they all have a dimension," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Tatar's game is rounding out. Tatar has a chance to be a real good player in the League if he keeps working and developing and taking care of the puck. Sheahan is a guy who's got to get his feet going to get through the neutral zone, but he knows how to play with and without the puck. Abdelkader has turned himself into a real good pro who's heavy on the forecheck, at the net, knows how to play. They've got the makings of a good line."

Goaltender Jimmy Howard was first off the ice at the morning skate and will start.

The Maple Leafs are coming off a 5-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. Toronto lost three straight previous to the win against the Lightning, including a 6-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres and a 9-2 loss at home against the Nashville Predators.

"Keep that work ethic I think," Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly said. "In that [Lightning win] we worked hard and played a good team game. We held each other accountable, and I think that's what we have to do every night. Play good team defense and keep working at it."

The Maple Leafs are 7-4-1 in the past 12 games. Alternating between winning and losing streaks has made things a bit of an emotional roller coaster in Toronto of late, but the Maple Leafs know it's up to them to win consistently.

"A lot of it had to do with us just working smart, it wasn't that we weren't working hard," defenseman Cody Franson said. "When we work smart, it really shows. We don't give up a lot of odd-man rushes. We play a much more sound style of hockey. In order to play that way, you have to work very hard. Our group is starting to get committed to that."

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier did not participate at morning skate, indicating he'll start.

Here are the projected lineups:


Henrik ZetterbergGustav NyquistJohan Franzen

Justin AbdelkaderRiley SheahanTomas Tatar

Tomas JurcoDarren HelmDaniel Cleary

Drew MillerJoakim AnderssonLuke Glendening

Niklas KronwallJonathan Ericsson

Kyle QuinceyDanny DeKeyser

Brian LashoffXavier Ouellet

Jimmy Howard

Petr Mrazek

Scratched: Jakub Kindl

Injured: Pavel Datsyuk (groin), Stephen Weiss (groin – IR), Brendan Smith (hand – IR), Jonas Gustavsson (shoulder – IR)


James van RiemsdykTyler BozakPhil Kessel

Daniel WinnikPeter HollandDavid Clarkson

Leo KomarovNazem KadriMike Santorelli

Richard PanikTrevor SmithJosh Leivo

Dion PhaneufCody Franson

Jake GardinerRoman Polak

Morgan RiellyStephane Robidas

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Carter Ashton (suspended)

Injured: Joffrey Lupul (broken hand – IR), Brandon Kozun (high ankle sprain – IR), David Booth (broken foot – IR)

Status report: Datsyuk's groin injury kept him out of the past two games and will keep him out against Toronto. … Kessel hurt his neck during practice on Friday, but will be good to go.

Who's hot: Franzen has points in seven of the past eight games and has four goals and four assists during that run. … For the Maple Leafs, Franson has a nine-game point streak.

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