The loss extended the Wings' winless streak to seven games (0-5-2) and with their next three games on the road at Philadelphia on Friday and home dates with Washington on Saturday and the New York Islanders next Monday, Detroit needs to find some answers quickly to get out of its current malaise.
Jonathan Bernier was scheduled to start in net but fell ill, so Jimmy Howard started the game, surrendering three goals before a lower-body injury forced him from the game midway through the first period.
A sickly Bernier entered the game and put up a valiant effort, facing 40 shots, yet the Wings couldn't generate any offense in front of their ailing netminder, allowing the Leafs to fire 54 total shots at the Detroit net.
Detroit managed 25 shots on Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, who registered his second career shutout against the Wings and improved his career record against the Detroiters to 9-0-1.
Travis Dermott, Tyson Barrie, John Tavares, William Nylander and Andreas Johnsson (two goals, one power play) lit the lamp for Toronto.
Up next for Detroit (7-17-3), is a Friday afternoon affair versus the Flyers in Philadelphia with face-off at 4 p.m.
Toronto (12-10-4) won its third straight game since they fired former Red Wings bench boss Mike Babcock and replaced him with Sheldon Keefe.
The Leafs' next game is also on Friday when they play at Buffalo, which will mark the end of their current six-game road trip.
1. Jonathan Bernier: The original plan was for Bernier to start the game, which seems like a reasonable idea considering his career 3-0-1 record against the Maple Leafs coming into the night. But sometime between the morning skate and the game, Bernier got sick and Howard started instead. Although Bernier was out for warmups, he did not do a whole lot. When the game started, Bernier wasn't even on the bench. Then disaster struck at 9:48 of the first period as Howard was injured on a shot, which eventually led to Toronto's third goal, and Howard had to leave the game with a mid-body injury. Bernier, who was sick in the dressing room, had to get his gear back on and come into the game against a fired up Maple Leafs team. The Leafs did not show any mercy, firing 40 shots at Bernier, who somehow only managed to let three goals in despite the barrage. What should have been a sure goal for Kasperi Kapanen on a rebound at 8:23 of the third did not end up as Toronto's seventh tally because Bernier got enough of a glove on it to deflect it into the crossbar and out. Bernier finished with 37 saves and was named the game's third star.
Quotable: "Bernie got to the rink tonight. He was supposed to start, I was told he was sick, then I went and saw him and he was in our equipment guy's room basically laying down. We tried to get another goalie here to back up but GR was in Chicago, Kaden Fulcher is hurt, so we didn't have another contracted goalie we could bring up. I just told Bernie, 'If we need you, if you can go, that's great; obviously, it was up to him whether he could go or not go. He came in and showed tons of guts coming in. I thought he played his (butt) off, played well. I asked him after numerous timeouts if he was OK and he told me he could keep going, so good for him. It was a pretty valiant effort by him." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill
Quotable II: "He battled so hard. To be in the state that he was in, to come in and how many shots they got and to play as well as he did is outstanding and kudos to him. I wish we could have played better in front of him." - Luke Glendening
Quotable III: "Look at that guy right there. Under the weather, couldn't go tonight. His partner goes down and he has to get dressed from laying down wherever he was back here. He wasn't feeling well at all and he came out and worked his hardest and he does that every day. Both our goalies work so hard in practice for us, take shots, take breakaways after practice and Bernie did that tonight. He came out. He's a professional, he's been around a long time. I felt like we wanted to work for him and battle for him. I believe we did that, even though the score is the score. We didn't give up." - Dylan Larkin
2. Lack of offense: For the second straight game and the fourth time this season, the Wings failed to score a goal. The last time they were shut out in back-to-back games since Jan. 12-16, 2014. Detroit is tied with New Jersey with 59 goals, the fewest in the league. Although the Wings are only ranked 28th on the power play, they didn't even have a chance as they did not have a power play for the first time this season. The last time they went without a man-advantage opportunity was Jan. 15 against the Anaheim Ducks.
Quotable: "I think we're not managing the puck. We're not putting it in good spots for our teammates. I believe that the work ethic's there but we're not working smartly with it. We work 20-30 seconds to get it and once we get it we're dead tired and trying to make plays and forcing it. We need to get out, get simple, get the puck, support each other and simplify our offensive game and do it together going up the ice." - Larkin
Quotable II: "(Anthony Mantha's) a big part of our offense but we gotta make it hard on their goalies. I think Freddie saw a lot of those shots he was facing tonight. A good goalie like him, he's gonna stop them. It looked like an easy night for him out there." - Frans Nielsen
Quotable III: "I don't know how much further rock bottom is but it's gotta be pretty close so we gotta find a way to play a simple game and keep pushing forward." - Glendening
Quotable IV: "We'll have shifts in the first period, I call them reinforcement clips, how we need to play to be successful. Our weak-side D was down retrieving pucks, we were shooting pucks and getting them back. That's how we're going to have to play to be successful. As you saw on two of their goals, when you shoot the puck, sometimes it goes in and it goes in off people and sometimes it doesn't. But you can't stop doing that. We'll be reinforcement clips on our neutral-zone forecheck, on our O-zone play from the first period. So just got to get back to that and do that. Now, you can't chase people around the whole time like we did in the second. If you do that, you're never going to have any offense. All we could do is go off and change." - Blashill
3. Second-period woes: To say the Wings have faltered in the second period of games this season would be an understatement. Coming into Wednesday night's game against the Leafs, the Wings had been outscored, 41-22, in the second period. That unfortunate trend continued against Toronto. The Wing gave up three goals in a span of 6:04 in the second and have now been outscored, 44-22, in the second. They also allowed 26 shots, the highest single-period total since giving up 27 shots at Los Angeles on Jan. 7, 2010.
Quotable: "Obviously, we played terrible in the second. Does it feel like a different loss? When you're chasing people around the rest of the game it's frustrating. We were chasing them around, we just couldn't create any stalls, so we played tons of D-zone coverage. We tried to make a tweak in our D-zone coverage and I'll take responsibility for that and as a result I thought we were in between in the second period. That part is on me. Now you're kind of running around, you're in between a little bit and it's frustrating. The third period is the third period. At that point the game is over. At the end of the night it's a loss. We got to move on." - Blashill
Quotable II: "We gotta find it. We keep saying we gotta find it in this room. I'm sure you guys are tired of hearing it, we're tired of saying it, we gotta do it. I don't know, I don't have a lot for you guys tonight, I'm sorry. It's frustrating. I'm always proud to wear this jersey and it's something that I think everyone in this room is proud to wear, but we gotta go out and prove we're proud to wear it every night." - Glendening
Quotable III: "We looked way off, especially in the second period. It looked like two different leagues. I can't really explain it right now but it's embarrassing. I think it's a lot mental. It's something for sure we gotta be better at. We see they get one, they get two and then it's like we get afraid of making mistakes out there, we get afraid of playing. We just throw pucks away and basically let them have the puck on their stick all night. They're a skilled team and if you don't make them defend at all, they're gonna make you pay out there." - Nielsen