Red Wings Rally, Still Fall to Maple Leafs 4-3

The Detroit Red Wings rallied from a 3-0 deficit Saturday night but allowed a late goal in a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Joffrey Lupul lifted a backhander from in close over a sprawling Jimmy Howard for what ended up being the game-winner at 7:10 of the third period. Lupul had picked off Niklas Kronwall‘s weak clearing attempt off the left boards and jumped out to the front of the net all alone. Howard went down quickly and gave Lupul the top half of the net, which he hit.

Phil Kessel had opened the scoring at 4:30 of the first period. Kessel broke in alone on Howard and shook off a slight hook from Ian White to get a shot off. Howard made the save but Kessel was given a penalty shot.

On the penalty shot attempt, Kessel faked out Howard and roofed a shot over him.

Dion Phaneuf made it 2-0 at 8:19 of the period on a Toronto power play. Danny Cleary‘s clearing attempt from the side of the goal went right to Phaneuf just inside the blue line. He rifled a shot right back past Howard.

David Steckel finished an odd-man rush by tapping in a centering pass from Lupul with 8:24 to give the Maple Leafs their initial three-goal lead.

Todd Berutzzi started the Detroit comeback at 6:46 of the second period, deflecting a Pavel Datsyuk shot past Jonas Gustavsson. The goal stood after video review to see if it was hit by a high stick.

Kronwall drove to the net and banged the puck past Gustavsson to pull the Red Wings within a goal with 4:11 remaining in the period.

Jiri Hudler completed the comeback at 4:32 of the third, knocking the rebound of a Brad Stuart shot past Gustavsson from the side of the net.

Howard faced only 18 Toronto shots on the night, stopping 14. Gustavsson made 37 of 40 stops.

The Maple Leafs had only two shots in the second period, compared to 14 for Detroit as the Red Wings began their comeback.

Each team had one power play try. The Maple Leafs scored on theirs while the Red Wings did not. The Leafs also had their penalty shot goal.

The Red Wings are back in action on Sunday when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Maple Leafs – 1/7

We’ve seen far too many games like tonight’s loss to the Maple Leafs from the Red Wings in the past. Give up a big lead early, dominate from there on out to make it close, end up coming up short.

Yeah, in this case they actually completed the rally, only to allow the GWG, but it was the early deficit that did them in.

And, aside from the Phil Kessel penalty shot goal (which I’ll get to shortly), the Wings earned that deficit.

The second Toronto goal was the direct result of a bad clearing attempt by Danny Cleary. He put that right on Dion Phaneuf‘s stick. Jimmy Howard didn’t look good facing the shot, either, like he didn’t expect it and moved to make the save too late.

David Steckel’s goal scored on an odd-man rush… I feel like Henrik Zetterberg should have been able to get back there. I won’t call it lazy but he sure didn’t seem quick coming back.

The Joffrey Lupul goal that ended up being the game-winner was awful all around. Lupul never should have gotten the puck as it was a terrible turnover, then Howard completely overplayed it. Howard went down way early, no one was there to clear Lupul away, he had all day to hit the top of the net.

And the penalty shot. For the second time in four games, Jimmy Howard had to face a penalty shot for an infraction so weak that the rest of the times it happened all game it wasn’t called. That’s the part that bothers me, that it got called once early against Detroit and then wasn’t called again. Convenient for Toronto, for sure.

The Wings did show some great effort in their comeback, at least.

Bertuzzi’s goal may have been a high stick, I don’t think there was conclusive video and the NHL’s War Room must have agreed. It was good to see him get to the net on the play.

Niklas Kronwall driving to the net looked like Johan Franzen. I don’t want the defensemen to have to do it, I’d rather see Franzen do it. That said, I liked the result.

I love plays like Jiri Hudler‘s goal, where Huds stuck with the puck and knocked in a rebound from in close.

So on one hand you have the Maple Leafs gifted a penalty shot that they scored on and then they go on to win by one. On another hand, the Red Wings had two horrible giveaways that were followed by weak goaltending. On a third hand, Detroit mounted a strong comeback and seemingly deserved something for their efforts.

In short, there are a lot of reasons for the Wings to be unhappy with tonight’s loss, plenty of blame to go around.