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John Tavares leads Maple Leafs to 5-4 win over Red Wings

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The captain shall lead them. As the Toronto Maple Leafs returned home from a dispiriting road trip, John Tavares recorded a goal and two assists to lift Toronto to a 5-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night.

Jake Muzzin and Alexander Kerfoot each had a goal and an assist for Toronto. Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno both had a goal and an assist for Detroit.

Maple Leafs score first

Jake Muzzin got the Maple Leafs on the board at 19:46 of the first period. He handled a pass off his skate from partner T.J. Brodie in the offensive zone and snapped a shot far side past Red Wings goaltender Thomas Greiss.

Maple Leafs winger Pierre Engvall hit the post on a clear-cut shorthanded breakaway 7:33 into the second period. On the same power play, at 8:19 of the second period, Filip Zadina got the Red Wings’ first goal. He fired a shot from inside the top of the right-wing circle, beating Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek high glove side.

Michael Bunting re-directed a Jason Spezza slap pass at 19:43 of the second period for a power play goal to give the Maple Leafs a 2-1 lead.

Toronto gained a bit of breathing room 17 seconds into the third period, as John Tavares controlled a puck down low in the offensive zone, went behind the Red Wings net and fed Alexander Kerfoot in the slot. Kerfoot buried it just inside the post, blocker side on Greiss, and the Leafs were up 3-1.

The two-goal lead did not last long, however, as The Red Wings scored at 1:36 of the third period. Joe Veleno, who was recalled from the AHL earlier in the day, was wide open in the slot after a turnover behind the Maple Leafs net. Vladislav Namestnikov pressured Travis Dermott and Auston Matthews to force the turnover, Michael Rasmussen centered it to Veleno, who caught a surprised Petr Mrazek with a shot low to the stick side.

Red Wings persist

John Tavares gave the Maple Leafs another two-goal lead at 7:47 of the third period. He finished a 2-on-1 break with Kerfoot, one-timing the puck past Greiss.

Vladislav Namestnikov pulled the Red Wings to within a goal at 10:11 of the third period. He finished off a brilliant setup from Red Wings defenceman Jordan Oesterle, who dangled William Nylander high in the slot before setting up Namestnikov on the doorstep.

In the aftermath of the goal, the Maple Leafs were going to be charged with high-sticking. However, a video challenge revealed that it was not Morgan Rielly’s stick that caught Namestnikov in the face. Rather it was Detroit teammate Michael Rasmussen’s stick.

Mitch Marner scored his first goal of the season at 17:55 of the third period. He stole a puck from Detroit’s Nick Leddy and shoving it into the empty net after Greiss played the puck to his defenceman.

That ended up being the winning goal as the Red Wings scored a goal with their net empty. Defenceman Filip Hronek stepped into a loose puck high in the slot and blasted a slap shot past Mrazek to cut the deficit to 5-4 with 28 seconds left in the third period.

The Maple Leafs showed some promising signs in the victory, but the Red Wings deserve full credit. On the second night of a back-to-back situation, they would not let the Maple Leafs pull away.

Toronto outshot Detroit 38-31.

More analysis and quotes from media availability coming to ToHN shortly.

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