Toronto Maple Leafs Lose to Wings For 1st Time Since 2017

(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Detroit Red Wings last night for the first time, in regulation, since 2017.

Once again the Toronto Maple Leafs were missing  TJ Brodie, who continues to nurse an injury to his ribs, and their best player,  Auston Matthews, who missed his second game with an undisclosed injury of his own.

Ilya Samsonov made some big saves,   and had a great night. The Red Wings had nine dangerous scoring chances at 5v5, and he allowed just a single goal.  This was, in reality, a 2-1 game, where the Wings scored an empty-netter and then a bonus power-play goal as time wound down.

The lone goal scorer for the Toronto Maple Leafs was Rasmus Sandin, who now has three on the year, tying him with Timothy Liljegren for the most among Leafs defensemen, and giving him fifteen points total in 39 games played so far this season.

Toronto Maple Leafs Power Play Continues To Struggle

The Leafs power play was scoreless on three opportunities last night, although the they were at least able to register a few shots this game. While an improvement over the other night when the team went shotless their first three opportunities, the Leafs have now capitalized only once on eight opportunities the last two games, scoring their only power play goal on the double major to end the game against Nashville.

With Auston Matthews absent from the lineup, the opposition has been able to focus more on the remaining players and have done a good job shutting down the Toronto Maple Leafs with the man advantage.

This is an area Sheldon Keefe should be looking to improve heading into Saturdays night affair against the league leading Boston Bruins.

Referees Continue To Decide Games

While the officiating was somewhat better this game, the Leafs still took five penalties to Detroit’s three, including a 30 second stretch of 5-on-3.

The officiating in Wednesdays game against the Predators was so bad that after a Mark Jankowski high stick caught Morgan Rielly in the face, directly in front of the referee, leaving the Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman with a bloodied nose, video evidence shows Rielly, upon rising to his feet, having a few choice words for the official, who had not raised his hand indicating a penalty call on the play.

Rielly was clearly not impressed with the referee, and if it wasn’t for Rielly’s life fluid flowing freely from his face, no call would have been made at all.

A missed call earlier in the game on a blindsided hit to the head by Nino Neidereitter on David Kampf was another egregious offense that went uncalled during the Nashville game as well, and almost certainly had something to do with Rielly’s outburst later that night.

This is not the first time Rielly has spoken out against officials in a game either, after he was heard using similar language against a linesman in February 2019.

Poor officiating has been a running theme for the Leafs over the years, costing them the Tampa series in last year’s playoffs, and just a few weeks ago, after the matchup against the St. Louis Blues on December 27th, Sheldon Keefe was fined $25,000 for demeaning conduct after berating official Wes McCauley for a missed call on a crosscheck to the face of Zach Aston-Reese by Brandon Saad that left the Leafs player bloodied on that occasion as well.

After the Red Wings shut the door in the third period, the Leafs were unable to come back, and in the end they lost a game where they were clearly the better team, finishing the night with a 59% puck possession, shots and expected goals. (naturalstattrick.com).

That’s not too bad when you’re missing two of your best players.

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With the loss last night, the Leafs are now tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for second place overall, with 59 points, remaining eight points behind Boston, who did not play last night, and six points ahead of their most likely playoffs opponent, the two time champions Tampa Bay Lightning.