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Blake scores twice but Leafs comeback falls short in loss to Red Wings

NHL.com @NHL

TORONTO - A potential comeback by the Toronto Maple Leafs evaporated as quickly as it came.

After rallying from a two-goal deficit early in the third, the Leafs ultimately fell 4-3 to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night in pre-season NHL action before 18,878 fans at the Air Canada Centre.

Jason Blake bagged a pair of goals for Toronto, while Mikhail Grabovski also scored for the Leafs, who dropped their second game in as many nights to the Wings after a 5-3 setback Friday night in the Motor City.

Grabovski, acquired in a trade this summer from Montreal, leads the Leafs with four goals in the pre-season. Blake spent the night playing right wing on a line with Alexei Ponikarovski and centre Nik Antropov, who had assists on both of Blake's goals.

Dan Cleary sparked the Wings (5-1-2) with two goals including the game-winner while Jan Mursak and Nicklas Kronwall also found the range for Detroit.

Blake finished off a nice three-way passing play with Ponikarovski and Antropov 43 seconds into the final period to cut Detroit's lead to 3-2 before Grabovski tied the game on a power play just over two minutes later.

However, Cleary struck right back with his second of the night just 35 seconds after Grabovski's tally.

Toronto (2-5-1) carried the play in an opening period that saw the teams exchange goals, but failed to register a shot on goal in the middle period.

The Wings took the lead early in the second on a shot Leafs goalie Curtis Joseph would like to have back. After Toronto failed to clear the puck out of its own zone, Mursak took a slapshot from a very sharp angle that went through Joseph.

Detroit extended its lead to two goals when Kronwall fired a power-play goal late in the middle frame.

The Wings opened the scoring less than five minutes into the game when Cleary snapped a shot past Joseph after working a nice give-and-go with Darren Helm. Just moments earlier, Joseph had stoned Cleary on a clear-cut breakaway.

The Leafs, who outshot the Wings 13-5 in the first, answered back on a power play. After Tomas Kaberle's point shot was stopped, Antropov took a couple of swipes at the rebound before Blake pounced on it and fired the loose puck past a helpless Osgood.

The Wings' 35-year-old goalie kept his team close in the first with several quality saves.

NOTES: The Wings iced a very watered-down lineup, as Pavel Datsyuk didn't dress because of a tweaked groin. Captain Nicklas Lidstrom and sniper Henrik Zetterberg were also on the sidelines ... Toronto's Ian White, a natural defenceman, spent the night at right wing. ...The Leafs play their final pre-season game Sunday afternoon when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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