Leafs look to bounce back versus Wings
DETROIT -- The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings will each be playing the second contest of back-to-back games when they meet Sunday night at Little Caesars Arena.
Toronto (35-20-5) lost to the Penguins 5-3 in Pittsburgh on Saturday night to snap a five-game winning streak, while Detroit (24-24-9) defeated the Predators 3-1 in Nashville.
The Maple Leafs' Patrick Marleau scored his 20th goal of the season -- on the power play -- to reach that mark for the 15th time in his career.
"I just try to play as consistent as possible and usually that stuff all evens out," Marleau said.
He has seven points (three goals and four assists) in his last four games. Center Tyler Bozak and winger Connor Brown had a goal and an assist apiece for Toronto, while goaltender Frederick Andersen made 34 saves.
The game was tied 3-3 after two periods but Pittsburgh scored twice in the third.
"We generated a lot (The Maple Leafs had 32 shots), but three or four of our best chances, I don't think we got a shot on net," said Toronto coach Mike Babcock, who formerly coached the Red Wings and won more games than any other coach in the franchise's history. "In saying that, it was a high event game, I didn't think either team handled the other team's forecheck that good, there was a lot of speed out there. If you're a fan, you had to be entertained with the racing around."
Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek made 31 saves and was the first star in Saturday's victory, the Red Wings third in their last four games. Mrazek's shutout bid was denied when Craig Smith scored a breakaway power-play goal with 5:25 left to make it 2-1.
Defenseman/forward Luke Witkowski, who usually contributes with his size and toughness, got the first goal of his NHL career. He gave Detroit a 1-0 lead when he scored on a breakaway 4:12 into the game on a backhand shot.
"I kind of blacked out a little bit," Witkowski said. "I got the puck on my backhand and shot it and got it past his blocker. That was cool though, a good building to do it in, too."
Witkowski had gone 73 games without a goal.
Right winger Gustav Nyquist and forward Darren Helm (empty-netter) also scored for the Red Wings.
"I thought our work ethic was great," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "There was certainly moments (in a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday) where our work ethic was really good, and then there were moments when it wasn't good enough. We can't be that. We've got to be an every shift work ethic team, and I thought tonight our work ethic was great the whole time."
Detroit defenseman Mike Green missed the game with an upper-body injury sustained Thursday.
Red Wings center Frans Neilsen, who had an assist Saturday night, has two goals and eight points in his last seven games.
Updated February 18, 2018