Matt Iaboni March 26, 2011
Joe Louis Arena
The Maple Leafs entered the third period trailing 2-1 but early in the frame Joffrey Lupul put home the rebound from his stomach. It gave the Leafs life but that was short lived.
Thirty-eight seconds after the Leafs tied it, Nikolai Kulemin turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Henrik Zetterberg found Jiri Hudler whose shot eluded James Reimer and sealed the game. With the loss and another Sabres' win, the Leafs are now seven out of eighth.
The Red Wings were without Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen but they didn't miss a beat thanks to Henrik Zetterberg who has to be one of the most underrated players in the league. He not only opened the scoring, he also helped set up the winning goal.
The Swedish centre was excellent on faceoffs Saturday winning 56 per cent. He is one of the most talented players in the league and he has feasted on the Eastern Conference recording 24 points in 17 games.
Dion Phaneuf was one of the better Maple Leafs Saturday. He picked up an assist on Lupul's goal and he was very physical against the talented Red Wings forwards. He finished the game with seven hits.
Phaneuf played a season-high 30:23, was a plus two with three shots and three blocked shots. He has now recorded three points in his last two games and six points in his last six contests. In the second his attempted shoot-in broke a pane of glass forcing an early intermission.
The faceoff circle was not kind to the Leafs Saturday. Toronto won just 39 per cent. All game long the Wings easily won draws that started breakouts and got their offence moving quickly.
The best Leaf on the night was Mikhail Grabovski at 44 per cent. The area where it really hampered the Leafs was on the power play. Detroit would send out veteran Kris Draper who more often than not won the draw and allow the Wings to clear. Draper won eight of 11 draws.
Ron Wilson on not relenting after winning two-of-three on the road but dropping seven points behind the even-hotter Buffalo Sabres:
"It is a hell of a trip. What are you going to do? There's still plenty of time and we've just got to go back home and regroup and keep on playing the way we are."
Tuesday, March 29 vs. Buffalo Sabres
7 PM ET (Sportsnet, AM640)
The Maple Leafs return home from the road as they look to keep their slim playoff hopes alive against the team they are chasing the Buffalo Sabres.
Buffalo has won four of five and picked up nine of a possible 10 points to sit with 85 points. The Sabres are just two points behind the seventh-place Rangers.