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Zetterberg helps Red Wings past Maple Leafs

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- Henrik Zetterberg was determined to have a bounce-back game, and that's exactly what he did.

The Detroit Red Wings captain had four assists in a 4-1 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Friday. He had said his performance against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday was one of the worst of his career.

"It was nice to bounce back here tonight and get two big points," Zetterberg said. "It was a tough game Wednesday and I didn't have much. Obviously the puck was bouncing our way and there were a few 50-50 pucks that just wound up on my stick."

The line of Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist and Johan Franzen line produced three goals and eight points and continually kept the Maple Leafs at bay with their speed and precise passing.

"They are two pure goal-scorers so it's easy to play with them," Zetterberg said. "They always find open spots and they both work really hard at creating chances for themselves."

Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf said the success of Detroit's top line comes from Zetterberg's playmaking.

"Zetterberg is a special player," Phaneuf said. "He has put up big numbers for a lot of years, and they seemed to do a really good job tonight of moving the puck and moving off the puck. They move around the offensive zone very well and protect the puck."

The Red Wings took advantage of a Maple Leafs miscue midway through the first period to take a 1-0 lead. Toronto defenseman Roman Polak was stripped of the puck behind his net by Zetterberg, who fired a crisp pass to Franzen situated at the other side of the goal. Franzen tipped it past goalie James Reimer at 10:00 for his first of the season.

A bright light for the Maple Leafs in the first period was their penalty killing. Toronto entered ranked 23rd in the NHL with a 75 percent success rate, but killed three minors (five total).

Zetterberg and Franzen teamed up again at 5:42 of the second period to give the Red Wings a 2-0 lead. Zetterberg drove hard to the net with Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner in pursuit. Zetterberg went past the net but made a nifty back pass to Franzen, who snapped a shot past a diving Reimer.

Zetterberg had a hand in Detroit's third goal at 18:16 of the second when he drove to the net, turned and spied Nyquist in the slot. Zetterberg made a perfect pass to Nyquist, who scored his fourth goal in four games on a low shot.

Mike Santorelli gave Toronto hope when he split the Detroit defense, took a pass from linemate Leo Komarov, and drilled a backhand past goalie Jimmy Howard 21 seconds into the third period. It was Santorelli's first goal for the Maple Leafs after playing last season for the Vancouver Canucks.

Justin Abdelkader restored Detroit's three-goal lead when he tipped a pass from Nyquist past Reimer at 5:51. Zetterberg drew the other assist.

Phaneuf said the Maple Leafs have to be better at paying attention to details in the defensive zone. Reimer faced 35 shots.

"When you look at their goals they all came in the key area on the ice and we seem to be a little bit too loose in that area," Phaneuf said. "When there are tap-in goals and cross-ice passes that are right to guys that are in the slot and key area, that's something we have to be better at. You just can't give chances like that in this league because teams will make you pay."

Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said he is surprised the Maple Leafs have not played to the level he believes they are capable of, and said they find ways to make life more difficult.

"A true-tell sign is the fact we had 11 turnovers and four offsides in the opening period," Carlyle said. "That is just not acceptable. We're a hockey club that has to establish a forecheck, get pucks in and go to work. It seemed like we refused to do that."

The teams complete a home-and-home Saturday at Joe Louis Arena.

Howard made 23 saves. Franzen did not play in the third period because of a lower-body injury.

The Maple Leafs lost rookie right wing Brandon Kozun at 6:31 of the second period when he was hit awkwardly into the end boards and had to be helped off the ice. Kozun will undergo an MRI for his lower-body injury and will not accompany the team to Detroit. Left wing Daniel Winnik left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.

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