The Detroit Red Wings earned a desperately needed victory by figuring out how to hold on a third-period lead.
Trevor Daley scored a tiebreaking, short-handed goal midway through the second period and Detroit went on to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Friday night.
Jimmy Howard had 25 saves for the slumping Red Wings. They had won just one of the past 11 games, losing the previous two games following a one-goal lead in the last period.
“It was getting harder and harder every day with that many losses,” said Tomas Tatar, who scored Detroit’s third aim. “Hopefully, we’ll turn it around and build off this.”
Detroit coach Jeff Blashill has attempted to keep his players focused on what he calls “the process,” which involves handling the puck well, pressure teams and playing quickly. He acknowledged, however, it is not easy to keep telling players to stay with a plan which is not leading to wins.
“Results help you,” Blashill stated. “They make you feel better about yourself.”
The Maple Leafs lost their third straight, matching a season high.
“They came out hard and we were not prepared for this,” Toronto’s Andreas Borgman stated. “They put us under pressure and we turned over a lot of pucks. We know we’re better than that, but we must dig in and play like that.”
Toronto was without star center Auston Matthews for a fourth consecutive game due to an upper-body injury.
“He was outside,” Daley joked, including Matthews is a excellent player.
Toronto is averaging three-plus objectives, standing among NHL leaders, but it’s scored a total of four goals in four matches without Matthews.
“Anytime you lose a player like that, it is going to change your team,” Detroit defenceman Danny DeKeyser stated.
Curtis McElhinney stopped 26 shots for Toronto, getting an opportunity to play for only the sixth time this year in place of No. 1 goaltender Frederik Andersen since the team was playing a second consecutive day.
“I felt pretty good, but I believe I needed to create one, more big rescue to give us a much better opportunity,” he said. “I thought we were going to get more than 1 goal, but it just didn’t happen.”
Borgman opened the scoring 1:58 into the game and the Matthews-less team fought to generate offence after that.
DeKeyser pulled the Red Wings to a tie early in the first and Tatar’s power-goal goal gave them a two-goal cushion they needed.
“It got the pressure off us,” Tatar said. “You’ve got to score more of them in games such as this. I know that it’s not possible to do it each time, but it is going to help to pick up the win for sure.”
Toronto played its fifth match in a seven-day stretch, but Mike Babcock refused to let that fact be a justification.
“Good teams find a way to dig in and win those matches,” he said. “They do it not always on ability, but on conclusion and decent composure and understanding how to play right. So we’ve got some work to do. We all know that.”
Courtesy: The Globe And Mail