DET-TOR 04:13:24

TORONTO -- Head coach Derek Lalonde knows exactly how the Detroit Red Wings came away with two points in a do-or-die game like the one on Saturday night, when they surrendered a three-goal first-period lead but held on for a nail-biting 5-4 overtime victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena to keep their playoff hopes alive.

“We’re not perfect, like anyone else battling for this last playoff spot,” Lalonde said. “Self-evaluation in the offseason, there’ll be a lot to look at and it’s been a unique up-and-down season. But it’d be really hard to knock this team’s compete and mental toughness. That’s pretty impressive.”

Goalie James Reimer, playing his 500th career NHL game, made 32 saves for the Red Wings (39-32-9; 87 points), who are tied with the Washington Capitals (38-31-11; 87 points) and Philadelphia Flyers (38-32-11; 87 points) for the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot. Detroit and Washington have two regular-season games remaining, while Philadelphia has one. The Capitals hold the tiebreaker over the Red Wings.

Netminder Ilya Samsonov finished with 27 for the Maple Leafs (46-24-10; 102 points), who are locked into third place in the Atlantic Division.

“We’ve been fighting for our lives here,” said Detroit captain Dylan Larkin, who scored the game-winner on a power play 41 seconds into overtime. “The sacrifice and attitude of the guys has been unbelievable. We got rewarded tonight for all the hard work that we’ve done the last stretch here, where we haven’t been getting rewarded.”

Mitch Marner put Toronto ahead 1-0 with a power-play goal at 8:35 of the first period, tapping in a cross-ice feed from William Nylander.

Alex DeBrincat tied it 1-1 with his first goal of the night at 10:02 of the first period. Lucas Raymond carried the puck down the ice on an odd-man rush and found DeBrincat, who buried a one-timer from the left face-off circle. Larkin recorded the secondary assist on the play.

Simon Edvinsson made it 2-1 at 13:39 of the first period, rifling the puck home from the left face-off circle for his first goal of the season. The assists on Edvinsson’s third career NHL goal went to David Perron and Larkin.

DeBrincat’s second goal of the game, this one on the power play at 17:37 of the first period, provided the Red Wings with a 3-1 lead. He cleaned up the rebound off a shot by J.T. Compher, who had taken Robby Fabbri’s pass from below the goal line.

"He was unbelievable tonight," Larkin said about DeBrincat. "He's been going and it finally went in for him tonight."

With the secondary assist on DeBrincat's 26th goal of the season, Fabbri also recorded his 200th career NHL point.

Detroit padded its lead even further when Perron, who was assisted by Patrick Kane and Compher, scored with a shot from a tight angle to make it 4-1 at 19:41 of the first period. It was Perron's 16th goal of the season.

Coming out strong, the Red Wings scored on four of their 14 first-period shots.

But unfortunately for Detroit, Toronto stormed back in the second period. Nicholas Robertson first cut the deficit in half to 4-2 at 9:04 when he sniped a shot from the left face-off circle past Reimer. Seventy-nine seconds later, Auston Matthews scored a power-play goal to make it 4-3.

“He’s obviously the best goal scorer in this league right now, so you’re just trying to limit him,” Reimer said about Matthews, who leads the NHL with 69 goals this season. “Lucky enough for me, I was able to get in the way of a few.”

On a delayed penalty at 17:22 of the second period, Marner found a wide-open John Tavares in the left face-off circle. The Maple Leafs captain quickly fired a one-timer that found twine to tie things up at 4-4.

“Very emotional roller coaster,” Lalonde said. “We had the 4-1 lead. Then the second period, I didn’t hate our 5-on-5 game. We had a bad line change. They scored one off the rush and then we put them on the power play. If you’re going to put them on the power play, you’re going to be on your heels. Exactly what happened.”

Toronto outshot Detroit 16-12 in a scoreless third period.

In overtime, Larkin redirected Kane's shot into the back of the net with Toronto's Max Domi in the penalty box for high-sticking. Compher picked up the secondary assist on Larkin's team-leading 33rd goal of the season.

“It’s one of the biggest of my career and I’m hoping this year to have some more big goals,” Larkin said. “You can’t feel any better. I knew Kaner was going to look for that play. I knew that I just had to have my stick on the ice and he was going to hit it. I didn’t even see it go in. I just saw Kaner, all the big moments he’s had in his career, how excited he was. See all the boys rush over. Man, what a feeling.”

NEXT UP: The Red Wings will conclude their 2023-24 regular-season home slate against the Montreal Canadiens at Little Caesars Arena on Monday night for the first half of a back-to-back set.

Meijer Postgame Comments | TOR vs. DET | 04/13/24


Lalonde on if it was fitting that Larkin scored the game-winner in OT

"The growth in him over the last two years as a leader, again, we keep things private in our room. That's a special player, a special kid and just his battle."

Larkin on Saturday’s overtime win

“We were happy to get it to the intermission with how the second period went. Our message was ‘win a period, win a game.’ It ended up going a little bit extra, but we got two points and Reims was a huge part of it. In his 500th game, I can’t be happier for him. The ultimate teammate. He’s got the best attitude coming to the rink with a smile. Just gave a great speech after the game how lucky he was just to play one game, let alone 500. It was a great locker-room atmosphere after that win.”

Larkin on the Red Wings’ approach entering Monday’s game against the Canadiens

“We got Montreal and man, that’s dangerous the way they’ve been going. We’ve been in that position that they’re in. It’s a whole different ball game of what we’ve been playing, these playoff-style games. We need to show up and have our foot on the gas. That’s been the attitude.”

Reimer on the way his milestone night transpired

“It’s special. Nights like this, you want to play well and you want to win. It just makes it that much more special. The way the guys battled tonight, the way they worked, the resilience that they showed after that second period to come back in here and shut it down and just play so well in the third (period), just proud of the guys and how they worked. Every game is a gift. You never know how games are going to turn out, but tonight was fun.”

Reimer on his mindset ahead of Saturday’s game

“Excited, nervous, you name it. I think probably every emotion. For 500 (games) for a goalie, it’s a big deal. You think back a little bit about what’s all happening in your career and what’s all taken place. For me, being a believer in Christ, every good gift comes from Him. Tonight was another example of that. You just try to play hard and well for Him, and hope things work out.”