The Detroit Red Wings had a big game on Sunday in Toronto, not because of the match-up or the need for a win but because it was announced that forward Marco Kasper was making his NHL debut. He was recently recalled from Rögle BK, and the 18-year-old was able to play his first NHL game.
Kasper not only made his debut for the Detroit Red Wings but was put on the team’s second line and earned the start in the first period to take the opening draw. He lost it to John Tavares, but what an honor for Kasper to get the opening draw and be placed on the second line.
The Maple Leafs came into this one looking to try and tack on more wins as they end their season, looking to earn a home-ice advantage to start off the playoffs. The Red Wings were just happy to see Kasper in the lineup and were looking to get back in the win column as things have taken a turn for the worst.
But the Red Wings were able to put that beside them. They picked up a 5-2 win, and Dylan Larkin was able to get things going and manage to score three goals for a hat trick. He crossed the 30-goal threshold as well.
Detroit Red Wings defeat Maple Leafs 5-2, riding back of Dylan Larkin.
The Detroit Red Wings were able to strike first. It was Olli Määttä who was able to get loose, create some space and get in on Maple Leafs’ goaltender Matt Murray. He was able to beat him, sending one into the back of the net and picking up the goal. He added his tally on the wrister and picked up the early lead for the Red Wings, making it a 1-0 game just 90 seconds into the first period.
Alex Nedeljkovic made a couple of really nice saves around the 8:00 mark in the first period, sprawling out to stop one. No fault to him, Calle Jarnkrok was wide open in front of the net and able to bury one into the twine to tie things up.
Soon after that, Nedeljkovic was able to sprawl around the crease with a failing effort, but a glove over the puck ultimately forced a penalty shot. Maple Leafs forward David Kampf skated in on Nedeljkovic and made a move, but he was not able to beat the Red Wings netminder.
Jonatan Berggren was able to pick up another goal for the Red Wings. He was skating in on Murray, got the puck corralled, and ripped one off the pipe and into the back of the net. Berggren gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead on a beautiful shot.
Later in the third period, a sliding Lucas Raymond took out the legs of Matt Murray. He hit the ice hard, was shaken up, and had to come out of the game, turning over the goalie duties to Ilya Samsonov.
Dylan Larkin gained control of the puck at the top of the Maple Leafs’ zone on a turnover. He got the stick on it, controlled it, and let one rip from the top of the zone to beat Samsonov and make it 3-1 in favor of the Red Wings.
The first half of the second period was quiet. The Detroit Red Wings created some scoring chances, and the Maple Leafs did as well. Marco Kasper did his best to try and get involved. He was able to do so at times. Both teams traded blows throughout.
Both teams traded blows throughout the period. Jake Walman and Michael Bunting got tangled up later in the period, jawing at one another, drawing two-minute minors. The result was some 4-on-4 time in the second.
Nothing came of it, but a few good scoring chances on both sides. Nedeljkovic continued to play well. Kasper continued to be steady in his debut. He was an agitator, being aggressive in front of the net; right before the buzzer, all of the Red Wings youngsters got into a scrum.
With Kasper, Lucas Raymond, Simon Edvinsson, and Moritz Seider all on the ice, the scrum turned into all the young guns getting dirty. Pesky Bunting got involved again, but Edvinsson grabbed him and let him know that he would not tolerate the tomfoolery. Bunting ended up being booted from the ice ahead of the break.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were able to answer in the third period and draw within one. The Detroit Red Wings were killing off a penalty after a soft call for holding on Larkin. He was in the penalty box when the Maple Leafs power play was able to execute.
A crowded net front allowed John Tavares to collect his goal on the redirect of a Morgan Reilly shot from the point. The shot from the point left Nedeljkovic out to dry, never giving him a chance, and the Maple Leafs made it 3-2. The puck doesn’t lie, though.
Larkin was able to pick up his second goal of the evening after a rebound in front was able to be jammed home. The shot from the point was coughed up to Larkin, who sent it past Samsonov. The Red Wings made it 4-2 after Larkin potted his second and crossed the 30-goal threshold.
The Red Wings were able to add an insurance goal ahead of the end of this one. Larkin netted his third goal of the evening, completing the hat trick with his family in attendance. It was a lengthy shot that was more of a clearing attempt as the puck started rolling on end and ended up in the back of the net.
The Detroit Red Wings captain netted goal no. 31 of the campaign and helped cap off the Red Wings’ 5-2 victory over Toronto.
Detroit’s back in action on Tuesday as they continue their string of games in Canada as they head further east for a match-up with the Montreal Canadiens.