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Wings blank Leafs in preseason finale

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

DETROIT – Saturday’s game was the Red Wings’ final tune-up before the puck drops on the regular-season for real this Wednesday when Detroit hosts the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks.

The Wings (6-3-0) finished the preseason -- and the last of a home-and-home series with Toronto – on Saturday with a 4-0 victory at Joe Louis Arena.

The Maple Leafs defeated Detroit, 6-4, at the Air Canada Centre on Friday.

The Wings and Leafs, who spent much of their franchise histories in the same division, will just play each other once during the regular-season. The two Original Six rivals will face-off in Toronto during “Hockey Day in Canada” on February 9.

After a scoreless first period, Johan Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk gave the Wings a 2-0 lead in the second with a pair of open-net goals less than three-minutes apart.

Dan Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson added goals in the third period.

Cleary, who was cut under his left eye with an accidental high-stick in the second, scored a power-play tally just 58-seconds into the third. He picked-up his own rebound and backhanded it past goalie Vesa Toskala.

Dominik Hasek wasn’t tested all that much by the Leafs. He stopped all 13 stops faced.

Samuelsson finished the scoring when he cruised down the left side and blasted a slapper that hit the stick of a Leafs’ defenseman and re-directed over Toskala’s left shoulder.

The game ended on the chippy side. Cleary earned a fighting major when he tangled with Kris Newbury, who’s stick had cut Cleary in the second period.

With less than a minute left, rookie Igor Grigorenko stood his ground in front of the Leafs’ net when he dropped the gloves with Jay Harrison.

The Wings are expected to trim the roster to 23 players by early in the week. On Saturday, the team did assigned forwards Evan McGrath, Johan Ryno and Ryan Oulahen to their AHL-affiliate in Grand Rapids.

Another player who won’t be on the Wings’ roster is veteran defenseman Brent Sopel. Originally drafted by Vancouver in 1995, Sopel, who spent training camp with the Red Wings, signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

After the game, the Wings announced the re-assignment of goalie Jimmy Howard, defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and left wing Mattias Ritola to Grand Rapids.

Coach Mike Babcock said that he will use Sunday to evaluate the remaining 16 forwards and make a decision on whom to keep on the team's 23-man roster. The forwards on the bubble are Grigorenko, Matt Ellis, Mark Hartigan and Aaron Downey.

The Wings will likely head into the the season with seven defensemen, including Derek Meech.


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