TORONTO -- It has been a trying season for the Red Wings, especially when it comes to the injury bug.
Whenever it appears the Wings are close to finally fielding a near full roster, another key player goes down.
At the 6:52 mark of the first period in the Red Wings' 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena, Detroit goalie Jonathan Bernier left the game with a lower-body injury.
Bernier was replaced by Calvin Pickard, who performed admirably in net, keeping the Wings in the game.
In an ugly third period incident, Anthony Mantha engaged with Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin. As the players were mixing it up, Muzzin grabbed Mantha up high and body slammed him to the ice.
Mantha's head hit the ice and he remained down for several minutes. He has been ruled out for Sunday's game at Little Caesars Arena against Arizona.
In the end, the game boiled down to several missed opportunities by the Wings and a fluky Toronto goal by former Michigan standout Zach Hyman, which propelled the Leafs to their fourth consecutive victory.
Hyman was breaking in on Pickard in the second period when Wings defenseman Mike Green dove for the puck. Green poked the puck away, but also tripped Hyman.
Both players were sliding along the ice when Hyman crashed into the Detroit net. However, the puck had crossed the goal line before the net was dislodged and after a review, Hyman was awarded a goal, giving the Leafs a 1-0 lead.
Tyler Bertuzzi (power play) was the lone goal scorer for the Red Wings. The goal was Bertuzzi's 100th career NHL point.
Hyman (two goals) and Auston Matthews (two goals, one power play) scored for the Leafs.
With the loss, the Wings (9-25-3) have now dropped three straight games. They host the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday before taking a four-day Christmas break.
Toronto (19-14-4) will next see action on Monday as they entertain the Carolina Hurricanes.
1. Anthony Mantha: Mantha was playing in only his fourth game since returning from a knee injury, which caused him to miss eight games from Nov. 24-Dec. 12. Though he is perhaps the Wings' most skilled player and a natural goal scorer, the 6-foot-5, 234-pound right wing isn't shy about dropping the gloves. At 18:05 of the third period, Mantha took on Muzzin for what he thought was a cheap shot up high delivered to teammate Madison Bowey. It appeared Mantha was about to get the best of Muzzin until the Leafs defenseman grabbed Mantha near the face, took his legs out from under him and body slammed him to the ice. It was a very questionable maneuver by Muzzin. Mantha's head hit the ice and he was motionless for a few minutes, but he eventually was able to make it off the ice with assistance. If Mantha is significantly injured, it would be a major blow to the Red Wings. In 29 games this season, Mantha is second in points (24) and goals (12) on the Wings.
Quotable: "Someone hits their head on the ice like that, it's scary. I think it's preventable. I don't know. I think the league really needs to look at that. A wrestling move can't be in our game like that. There's no defense to that. Very scary. Hopefully (Mantha's) okay. He (Muzzin) just takes his legs out. I don't really want to talk about it a whole lot. I don't know what I can and can't say. I saw it right there. He takes his legs out. It's dangerous. It's not a hockey play." - Dylan Larkin
Quotable II: "I think he (Mantha) went in there to defend the hit. He initiated it and Muzzin took him down. That's what happened. I wasn't sure at first what the ailment, I didn't see, I was trying to look at the replays. I wondered if it was a knee or a shoulder. Then I saw him hit his head so that's really scary. I just hope he's all right here. Right now he's going to be out tomorrow. I'll have more to update. I don't think it's anything urgent but I'll have more of an update tomorrow. We'll see where he's at. I don't know. Obviously the timing of the Christmas break helps. First thing I want to do is make sure that Anthony's all right, that's the first thing I want to do." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill
2. Calvin Pickard: Signed as a free agent by Detroit last July 1, Pickard has spent most of this season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Wings' AHL affiliate. However, once goalie Eric Comrie was claimed off waivers by Winnipeg and with veteran netminder Jimmy Howard on a conditioning stint with the Griffins, Pickard was recalled from Grand Rapids on Dec. 19. He was pressed into service against the Leafs when Bernier left the game at 6:52 of the first period with a tender groin. Pickard acquitted himself quite well in the Detroit net considering he came into the game cold. Several Wings praised his effort and were disappointed they couldn't give him more offensive support. Pickard (0-2-0) stopped 16 of the 20 shots he faced for a save percentage of .800. In 19 games with the Griffins, Pickard is 9-7-3, with a 3.03 goals-against average, an .893 save percentage and one shutout.
Quotable: "It was kind of a whirlwind. Five minutes into the game, going in on a PK, you know you're for sure going to have some work there. Good power play over there. We did a good job killing. A couple of one-timers from the outside and I got myself into the game early. Being a backup goalie, there's always that chance. I've done it a lot of times before in this league. I had a feeling. Bernie was a little sore before the game. I was ready for it. You always got to be ready for it. I had a good pre-game skate this morning. I thought I was pretty good for a couple of periods but I would've liked to have a better effort in the third." - Pickard
Quotable II: "Bernie, I found out after warmup that Bernie had a bit of a sore groin and he thought he could go and then he obviously couldn't go. It was a tough spot obviously for Pick. I thought Pick went in right on the penalty kill, did a really good job early. He went in and battled." - Blashill
Quotable III: "It's tough for him (Pickard) with the travel he's had and hasn't played a whole lot himself recently. I thought he came in and gave us a chance to win this game. We just needed more to come up offensively and we didn't help him out enough tonight." - Larkin
3. Tyler Bertuzzi: One of the few bright spots this season has been the play of Bertuzzi. A versatile forward who is effective on all four lines, Bertuzzi has a knack for getting under the opposition's skin. Yet, unlike previous seasons in which he might take a bad penalty or two, the pesky forward is still abrasive but has only accumulated 10 penalty minutes. He leads the Wings in goals (13), assists (16), points (29) and power-play points with nine. Against the Leafs, he scored Detroit's only goal on the power play at the 18:16 mark of the third period. It was his 100th NHL point in 165 career games.
Quotable: "I thought we played pretty good in the first. In the second we played not bad. We had better chances all night. We just have to bear down more on our chances and help our goaltenders. (On) the power play we got one at the end but that's too late. We need to be better early on, go tape to tape and just make simple plays. If we get a goal on the power play on our first one, it's a closer game." - Bertuzzi
Quotable II: "We got to start the third period with a power play and we go out and we don't execute. That's the game. We score a goal there, make it 1-1, it's a different hockey game. We had our chances. You have to create bounces for yourself in this league. You do that by working hard and doing the right things. We did that tonight, it just didn't go in the net. If we do that tomorrow, I think we're going to have a better result than we did tonight." -Larkin
Quotable III: "Up until their goal in the second, they had four shots in the second period. I thought we had played really, really good hockey. I thought in the first it kind of ebbed back and forth. They hemmed us in a little bit, got some O-zone chances, we had some rush chances going the other way, kind of went back and forth. I thought in the second we were the better team for lots of the period, outside of one shift there at the end. We had the chance to shoot the puck, we don't shoot the puck, they go back the other way on a breakaway and score. That's a huge moment with our team right now. The fact we didn't score during that stretch when we were playing really good hurts us for sure. We come out on the power play in the third, we don't score, they get a power play, they do score. That can't happen." - Blashill