Maple Leafs ride four-goal first period to 6-3 win over Red Wings
Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner (51) falls over Detroit Red Wings centre Dylan Larkin (71) during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Wednesday, October 18, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Kyle Cicerella, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, October 18, 2017 11:16PM EDT
TORONTO -- Curtis McElhinney wasn't sharp in his season debut, but he was there when it counted as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-3 on Wednesday.
McElhinney got his first start of the year in place of Frederik Andersen and made 29 saves, including 14 in the third period, for the win.
Nazem Kadri, Zach Hyman, Auston Matthews, Connor Brown, Morgan Rielly and William Nylander scored for the Maple Leafs (6-1-0), who were playing their second game in as many nights after Andersen earned a 2-0 win over Washington on Tuesday.
Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Tatar, Jonathan Ericsson found the back of the net for the Red Wings (4-3-0). Nick Jensen had three assists.
Jimmy Howard gave up three goals on four shots before getting yanked in favour of Petr Mrazek late in the first period.
Toronto scored on its first two shots for a 2-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game and had goals on four of its first five shots for a commanding lead at first intermission.
Detroit had the early pressure but the Leafs opened the scoring after catching the Red Wings on a bad line change.
Kadri took a long pass from Ron Hainsey, walked in and beat Howard over the blocker with Toronto's first shot of the game at 5:56.
Hyman made it 2-0 only 44 seconds later, tipping a Rielly shot past Howard while the Air Canada Centre P.A. announcer was still in the midst of announcing Kadri's goal.
Zetterberg put Detroit on the board with 7:50 to play in the first after getting McElhinney to bite on a fake before skating around the net and finishing on a wrap-around with the Leafs netminder out of position.
Matt Martin didn't record Toronto's third shot on net until near the 14-minute mark of the period and it turned out to be the only save of the night for Howard.
McElhinney made up for his earlier blunder on Zetterberg by getting his left pad down on an Anthony Mantha shot when the Wings forward got in alone at the side of the net.
Matthews chased Howard from the Wings net with 4:14 to play in the first, snapping a shot past him from almost the exact same spot Kadri did to open the scoring.
Mrazek didn't fair any better as Brown beat him through a screen on the first shot he faced -- only 40 seconds after Matthews' goal.
Tatar cut into Toronto's lead 7:02 into the second period when he put in a rebound off his own shot that McElhinney initially kicked into a dangerous area.
Detroit made it 4-3 just 1:34 later on a play that needed video review.
Ericsson's point shot beat McElhinney but was originally disallowed because of goalie interference on Justin Abdelkader. Wings coach Jeff Blashill challenged the call and it was over turned.
Rielly made good use of a Toronto power play, beating Mrazek from the point to make it 5-3 with 7:03 to go in the second.
Shots were 18-18 after 40 minutes.
Detroit put some pressure on Toronto in the first half of a mostly uneventful third period, but McElhinney was there to keep it a two-goal game until Nylander scored into an empty net.
Notes: A "moment of celebration" was held pre-game for Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, who died of cancer on Tuesday at 53...Leafs forward Patrick Marleau played in his 1,500th career NHL game.