Toronto at Detroit (3/26/11)

It was an old-school rivalry for the Red Wings tonight as fellow original-six team the Toronto Maple Leafs came to town for a game at the Joe. The starting goaltenders were Howard and Reimer. Bertuzzi was back in the lineup tonight but the Red Wings were missing Franzen, Datsyuk and Salei.

The crowd was really into it tonight. There were a lot of Maple Leaf fans who made the trip to Detroit and they were battling the Red Wings fans to see who could chant the loudest. Every chant of “Let’s go Red Wings!” was answered with “Go Leafs, go!” The Joe was rocking, for sure!

The game had a great pace and the score was tight through most of the night. The Maple Leafs are in desperate need of points to reach the last playoff spot in the East so they had the motivation. Detroit scored first when Zetterberg got his own rebound on the power play and banged it in. Toronto answered later in the first period when Kadri snapped one through a small opening into the corner of the net.

In the second period Detroit was on the power play and Holmstrom scored with his signature tip-in in front of the net. That made it two to one Red Wings. Later in the second period Boyce hit Rafalski hard into the boards after a pass. It looked to me like a pretty clean hit although Boyce did stick his right leg out a little bit as he hit him. Abdelkader was displeased by that and he stepped up and fought with Boyce. It was a pretty good fight but there was no clear winner. Abdelkader got the takedown, though. With a few minutes left in the period, Phaneuf cracked a pane of glass with a hard shot. As they started to repair it the refs decided to just go to intermission and finish the second period just before start of the third. The only drawback to that was that the Leafs were on a power play and they got a fresh sheet of ice to use after intermission. The Wings killed it off though so it didn’t hurt anything.

In the third period Lupul made contact with Howard in the crease. Howard was down making a save and Draper was on Lupul’s back. Lupul fell down on top of Howard. While he was pinning Howard to the ice, he swung his stick around and swept the puck into the open net. Incredibly, the goal was allowed. It’s pretty easy to score when you’re sitting on the goalie and I cannot understand why they didn’t at least wave off the goal due to incidental contact. I can see not giving him a penalty because Draper was right there and pushed him a little bit after he’d already made contact with Howard. But he clearly prevented Howard from having a chance to stop that puck. He prevented him from even getting up! As if all that wasn’t bad enough, Howard was also injured on the play. He had to leave the game and seemed to be favoring his left shoulder or rib area as he went off which is where Lupul landed on him. MacDonald came in to relieve him.

Just 38 seconds after Lupul’s tying goal, Hudler brought the puck into the Maple Leafs’ end and fired it from the top of the circle. Reimer missed it with his glove hand and Hudler scored to re-gain the lead for the Wings. The Leafs pulled the goalie at the end for the extra skater and Bertuzzi scored an empty net goal to seal the deal.

This was a great game with a lot of energy and a spirited crowd. The Leafs now need a miracle to make the playoffs. Since the Sharks also won tonight, the Red Wings’ two points keeps them tied for second place in the West. MacDonald was great again tonight coming in in relief of Howard. It’s about time he gets a win since lately he’s been playing great and still ending up with a loss or overtime loss.

This 2-4 win brings us to:
97 points

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