Red Wings spoil Nylander’s return
TORONTO — Dylan Larkin scored at 2:48 of overtime as the Detroit Red Wings beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on Thursday despite blowing a three-goal lead in the third period.
Larkin moved in on a breakaway after taking a pass over the top from Gustav Nyquist, who had a goal and two assists, and beat Garret Sparks between the pads to snap the Leafs’ five-game winning streak.
Mike Green, with a goal and an assist, Jonathan Ericsson and Luke Glendening also scored for Detroit (13-12-4). Former Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier stopped 27 shots for the Wings. Larkin also had an assist.
Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen, with a goal and an assist each, John Tavares and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto (20-8-1). Jake Gardiner added two assists.
Garret Sparks made 27 saves for the Leafs with No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen getting the night off after facing 40-plus shots in four straight starts.
William Nylander suited up for his first game since coming to terms with Toronto on a new sixyear, US$45-million contract over the weekend to end a contract impasse that cost the restricted free agent the season’s first 26 games, but wasn’t a factor.
The 22-year-old winger, who got a mostly warm reception when he stepped on the ice for his first shift, started on a line with Auston Matthews and Patrick Marleau before getting benched midway through the third period.
“He’s an intelligent player,” Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said of Nylander before the game. “Once he gets up to speed he’ll be real good. We expect him to have energy tonight.
“He should be the freshest guy in hockey.”
But neither Nylander or most of his teammates looked fresh or had much energy through 40 minutes against an injury-hit opponent missing a number of regulars as the Leafs trailed 4-1 through two periods.
Toronto came to life in the third, however, scoring three goals in just under nine minutes to tie it as Babcock put his lines in a blender, including the stapling of Nylander to the bench.
Tavares made it 4-2 when he ripped his 18th past Bernier off the rush at 2:38 of the third.
Sparks, who had a shaky opening, made a nice pad stop on Larkin at the other end to keep his team within striking distance before Hyman potted his seventh on a rebound at 8:50.
Johnsson then chipped his sixth up and over Bernier from in tight after Matthews fired a deflected shot off the end boards at 11:36 to make it 4-4 and send Scotiabank Arena into a frenzy.
Connor Brown was stopped on a partial breakaway in the final minute before Detroit’s Nick Jensen hit both posts on a point shot that somehow stayed out at the other end with under 10 seconds to play.
William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs pulls away from Detroit Red Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall during Thursday’s game in Toronto.