DETROIT - Out of all of the Red Wings' Original Six rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs stand out.
In the 661 contests played between these ancient combatants, the Wings hold the advantage, 283-279-93-6.
Toronto and Detroit met for the 333rd and last time Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena in a highly entertaining game where Toronto's terrific rookie trio of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander scored four of the Leafs' five goals to pace Toronto to a 5-4 victory over the Wings.
For long stretches of the game Detroit had the upper hand, outshooting the Leafs 42-27, but a few costly mistakes ended up in the back of the Wings net.
Twice the Red Wings were down by two goals but they showed a competitive spirit to tie the game up and then have their late third-period comeback fall just a goal short.
1. Gustav Nyquist : Since returning from his six-game suspension, Nyquist has flourished on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Tatar. Against the Maple Leafs, Nyquist scored the game's first goal at 14:50 of the first period, a nifty shot into the top right corner of the net off a drop pass from Frans Nielsen. Nyquist has four goals and 11 assists in his last 15 games and moved into second place in team scoring with 44 points behind Zetterberg's 66.
Quotable: "I think the character of this team has continued to shine, to be dead honest with you. This isn't easy. I think your character's tested when times are tough and I think this character's continued to shine. We got an unreal group of people in here. These are, again, not easy times and our guys are coming through." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill
Quotable II: "That was a really great atmosphere, which is what you expect with these two teams playing in this building. I thought Detroit outskated us in the first period, and we weren't as physical as we normally are, but we responded well." - Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock
2. Henrik Zetterberg: Zetterberg continues to lead the way for the Wings, assisting on goals by Nick Jensen and Niklas Kronwall. That gives Zetterberg 50 assists for the season, the second time in his career he has reached that mark. He had 56 assists in the 2010-11 season. It also marked Zetterberg's 500th career point at Joe Louis Arena in his 499th game at home. Zetterberg has seven goals and 28 assists in his last 31 games, tied for the fifth highest point total in the league since Jan. 24. Zetterberg also won 14-of-20 face-offs and had five shots on goal, second on the team to Nielsen's seven.
Quotable: "He's had an unbelievable year obviously. I think every year he's unbelievable to be honest with you. I don't know if his points haven't been up as they have this year compared to the previous years, but I still think he's one of the best players in this league and the way he leads this team. The way he works on and off the ice and gets himself ready for the game, he sets the bar for us. That bar is pretty high. He's our best player every night. He's a special player." - Nyquist
3. Auston Matthews: Matthews, the odds-on favorite to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of year, had an impressive night on the scoresheet. Matthews had two goals and an assist for Toronto. His first goal of the game, notched early in the second period, was a snap shot that beat Jimmy Howard sort side. It was a goal scorer's goal. Matthews' second goal late in the third period would turn out to be the game-winner. In four games played against the Wings this season, Matthews has five goals and one assist for a total of six points. After Saturday, in 77 games, he has 38 goals, 28 assists and 66 total points.
Quotable: "I didn't think he had anything (to shoot at). He's got quick hands, he's got a quick release. Knew that going in and he was able to find a smaller hole there." - Howard on Matthews' first goal
Quotable II: "I've seen that a couple of times from him. He's a got a quick release and he tricks a lot of people with it. He's constantly getting open and putting himself in areas where he can score. When he gets in those areas, he's pretty deadly. I think he's one of the top goal scorers already." - Mitch Marner on Matthews