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Five Takeaways: Short-Staffed Red Wings Blanked By Leafs

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Marc Staal, Detroit Red Wings
Dylan Larkin and Marc Staal were among seven missing regulars in the Red Wings' 3-0 loss at Toronto.

The Detroit Red Wings are literally limping to the finish line of the NHL regular season. In Game 81 on Tuesday at Toronto against the Maple Leafs, Detroit was playing minus seven regulars and dropped a 3-0 verdict.

Five takeaways as the Red Wings were shutout for the eighth time this season.

Red Wings Playing Roster Roulette

Detroit was already without forwards Dylan Larkin (core surgery), Robby Fabbri (knee surgery), Carter Rowney (lower body), Filip Zadina (appendicitis) and Givani Smith (undisclosed). Prior to the game, defenseman Marc Staal, the Red Wings’ Masterton Trophy nominee, was entering into COVID-19 protocol.

“He’s not traveling with us,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’ll adhere to the COVID restrictions. He will not play Friday (at New Jersey).”

Forward Adam Erne took the pre-game warmup but was a late scratch with an undisclosed injury.

“Erne was hurt,” Blashill said. “He was able to participate in pre-game skate but could not play tonight. He’s questionable for Friday.”

Where Did The Goals Go?

Through the first three Wings-Leafs games, there were a combined 37 goals scored – 22 by Toronto and 15 from Detroit. They included 10-7 and 7-4 Toronto wins at Detroit and a 5-4 Leafs verdict over the Red Wings in Toronto.

Tuesday’s scoreless opening frame ended up being the only scoreless period of the 12 played between the two teams this season. Holding true to form, the second period (one) provided more goals than the first and third (two) was the highest-scoring period.

Over the four games, there were seven first-period goals, 12 second-period goals and a whopping 21 third-period tallies.

“I thought we did a pretty good job of defending and checking and being above them and keeping the opportunities for the most part to opportunities that were contested at least and not big-time chances,” Blashill said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of keeping ourselves in position to win the hockey game.”

Rivalry? What Rivalry?

Toronto and Detroit first met on NHL ice on Jan. 4, 1927 and are considered to be among the most storied rivalries in the game. Well, at least it used to be.

Tuesday’s win was the seventh in a row recorded by the Leafs over the Red Wings. The Wings are 1-7-1 in their last nine visits to the Scotiabank Centre.

The last time Detroit was recording a regulation-time victory over the Leafs was a 3-1 win Dec. 15, 2017 at Little Caesars Arena. The Red Wings haven’t posted a regulation-time triumph at Toronto since a 3-2 verdict on April 2, 2016.

Auston 60 Limits

NHL goal-scoring leader Auston Matthews netted a pair of goals, including the game winner, to become the first Leafs player to ever score 60 goals in a season. Matthews roofed a shot from the high slot past Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic for the milestone marker.

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He’s the third player in NHL history to score his 60th of the season against Detroit. Buffalo’s Alexander Mogilny potted his 60th on Feb. 24, 1993 behind Tim Cheveldae. Montreal’s Guy Lafleur netted No. 60 past Ron Low on April 8, 1978.

Like Matthews, both Mogilny (four) and Lafleur (two) met the requirement of recording multi-goal nights against the Wings to ascend to the 60-goal plateau.

Wrong Red Wings Player Binned

It isn’t often that a coach will demand of the officials that they put one of his players in the penalty box. That was the case on Tuesday, however.

Early in the third period, Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider was penalized for tripping Matthews. Blashill disputed the call, insisting it was forward Mitchell Stephens who was guilty of committing the infraction. Officials looked at video review. Determining Blashill to be correct, they announced their error and instead sent Stephens to the sin bin.

It mattered little that Blashill was able to keep Seider on the ice. Matthews’ tally on the ensuing power play was his milestone 60th goal.

Skating a game-high 25:29, almost all of it aganst the Matthews line, Seider was even. He put six shots on goal and delivered three hits.

“We tried to get him out there against Matthews as much as we could,” Blashill said. “I think he’s really continued to grow as a young player.

“I thought he did a good job today of managing his game, of trying to attack when he could attack and defend when he needed to defend.”

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