NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 21st
(All times Eastern)
Detroit Red Wings (16-12-9) at Toronto Maple Leafs (18-16-3), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - A preview of the upcoming Winter Classic is on tap
Saturday night in Toronto, as the Maple Leafs host the Detroit Red Wings at
Air Canada Centre.
Saturday's tilt is the first of four scheduled meetings between the Red Wings
and Leafs this season. The next encounter will be staged outdoors, as Detroit
is set to host this year's Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium.
Before battling in front of 100,000 or so people, however, these two Original
Six rivals will get together for tonight's clash in Toronto, where the Red
Wings have lost four straight games since last beating the Leafs on the road
on Nov. 16, 2002.
Toronto has taken four of five overall from the Red Wings, who are now playing
in the same division as the Maple Leafs thanks to the onset of realignment.
Detroit moved from the Western Conference to the East prior to this season and
joined Toronto in the Atlantic Division.
The Red Wings hope to stay on the right track tonight after halting a six-game
losing streak in their last trip to the ice. Detroit stopped the 0-4-2 slide
with Thursday's 3-2 overtime win over Calgary, as the Wings salvaged the final
test of four-game homestand.
Daniel Alfredsson scored his second goal of the game just 63 seconds into
overtime to help the Red Wings defeat the Flames and record their first win
since a road victory over New Jersey on Dec. 6.
The Red Wings got a power play when Calgary defenseman TJ Brodie was whistled
for hooking with 42 seconds left in regulation. On the ensuing power play,
Pavel Datsyuk fed Alfredsson for a one-timer in the slot and the veteran
buried a shot past Karri Ramo.
"We're hanging in games and we're playing some good hockey, and then all of a
sudden, we have some lapses where we give the other team way too many
chances," said Alfredsson. "We did that at times (tonight) too, but we grinded
throughout the whole time, 60 minutes, and obviously Pavel's play there at the
end of regulation to draw the penalty turns out to be huge."
Jonas Gustavsson made 20 saves for the Red Wings, who avoided their sixth
consecutive loss on home ice. Detroit is playing three of its next four games
on the road before hosting the Winter Classic and has a solid 10-3-3 away
record this season.
With regular No. 1 goaltender Jimmy Howard still out with a knee injury.
Gustavsson expects to start tonight against his former team. It would mark the
goaltender's first appearance against the Leafs since he joined Detroit as a
free agent in the summer of 2012.
In addition to Howard, forwards Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Darren
Helm and Johan Franzen will miss tonight's game due to various injuries.
However, Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser is expected to return to the
lineup Saturday after missing the last 15 games with a separated left
The Maple Leafs also will try for a second straight win on Saturday after
halting a two-game slide of their own on Thursday.
Toronto won for just the second time in six outings with a 2-1 shootout win
against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes. James van Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul
both scored in the shootout on Thursday to help the Maple Leafs pick up two
Van Riemsdyk slipped the puck through Mike Smith's five-hole on the backhand.
Smith flew back into the net and did not allow the referees to see where the
puck went. After a review, the goal was deemed to be good. Mikkel Boedker then
beat James Reimer on a backhand shot, but two Toronto shooters later, Lupul
lit the lamp after faking the shot and wristing the puck over the shoulder of
Troy Bodie netted Toronto's lone goal in regulation. Cody Franson and Peter
Holland picked up the assists on the score and Reimer turned aside 34 shots
for the win.
"You're always looking for someone to step up for you. Obviously our
goaltending has been strong for us. Tonight was another example of James
Reimer stepping up. We're very fortunate to have him," said Maple Leafs coach
Toronto is capping a three-game homestand tonight and is 12-8-0 as the host
12/21 11:01:06 ET
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