John Tavares leads Toronto Maple Leafs over Detroit Red Wings 5-4

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TORONTO — John Tavares had a goal and two assists, Petr Mrazek made 26 saves for his first victory with Toronto, and the Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-4 on Saturday night.

Jake Muzzin and Alexander Kerfoot, with a goal and an assist each, Mitch Marner and Michael Bunting provided the rest of the offence for Toronto (4-4-1).

Joe Veleno and Filip Zadina, with a goal and an assist apiece, Vladislav Namestnikov and Filip Hronek replied for Detroit (4-3-2).

Thomas Greiss stopped 33 shots for the Red Wings, who were minus leading scorer Tyler Bertuzzi because he’s declined to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and is unable to travel to Canada without a 14-day quarantine.

Bunting snapped a 1-1 tie — and Toronto’s ugly 0-for-17 stretch with the man advantage over its last six games — when he redirected Jason Spezza’s slap pass home for his third goal of the season with 17.1 seconds left in second period on the Leafs’ first power play of the night.

Kerfoot then made it 3-1 just 17 seconds into the third when he took a pass from Tavares and beat Greiss for his second.

Detroit got back within one 1:19 later when Veleno took a pass from Michael Rasmussen and beat Mrazek for his first after Travis Dermott turned the puck over behind Toronto’s net.

After the Leafs killed off a penalty, Tavares scored his third off a Kerfoot pass on a 2-on-1 to make it 4-2 at 7:47.

But the Red Wings responded at 10:11 when Namestnikov redirected his fourth after Veleno took the initial shot for the rookie’s first two-point game of his NHL career in his sixth contest.

Marner then put it out of reach with his first goal in 17 games dating back to last season after Greiss and Detroit defenceman Nick Leddy got their signals crossed with 2:05 left on the clock.

Hronek made it 5-4 on his first with Greiss on the bench, but Toronto held on from there for its second straight win.

The Leafs have made a habit of slow starts in their middling start to the season — including falling behind 2-0 to the winless Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday before rallying for a 3-2 overtime victory — but were shot out of a cannon early against Detroit.

Greiss, whose team was playing its third game in four nights after losing 2-1 to the Florida Panthers on Friday at home, held the fort with a couple of nice stops as Toronto built an 8-2 edge in shots.

The Red Wings looked poised to get out of the first period unscathed, but Muzzin gave the Leafs a 1-0 lead with 13.4 seconds left when he took a pass from T.J. Brodie and fired home his first of the campaign.

Mrazek, who made his first home start for Toronto since pulling his groin in Ottawa on Oct. 14, stopped Dylan Larkin with a nice pad stop six minutes into the second period.

Leafs winger Pierre Engvall then rang a shot off the post on a Detroit power play after intercepting a pass from rookie defenceman Moritz Seider and racing in on a break.

The Red Wings went back the other way, with Seider setting up Zadina to rip his second past Mrazek’s glove at 8:19.

Drafted in the fifth round by Detroit back in 2010 before playing 166 games for the organization over six seasons, Mrazek kept things even with a nice stop on Michael Rasmussen before Bunting pushed Toronto ahead late in the period.

Notes: Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly signed an eight-year, US$60-million contract extension Friday that stretches through the 2029-30 season. … Toronto blue-liner Justin Holl — protected by the team in the Seattle expansion draft — was a healthy scratch. Timothy Liljegren took his spot in the lineup.

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

 

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