High-scoring Maple Leafs vist struggling Red Wings

Three games into the season, things are already taking on a familiar look for the Detroit Red Wings.

The Wings, who lost an NHL-high 27 one-goal games last season, are 0-2 in one-goal games so far. After going 3-12 in overtime last season, Detroit dropped its season opener to the Columbus Blue Jackets in OT.

And after scoring 217 goals to finish 28th in the NHL in 2017-18, an average of 2.64 goals per game, the Red Wings are scoring at an even slower rate, with six goals during their 0-1-2 start.

“I feel like we’re definitely getting a lot of chances,” Detroit forward Andreas Athanasiou said. “I think the chances are right there. I’ve had two breakaways, missed the net.

“Eventually, they’re going to go in and we’ll see everything start to open up after that.”

The Red Wings will need to make the most of their chances Thursday, as they play host to the scoring machine that is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Off to a 3-1-0 start, Toronto has potted an NHL-high 20 goals, averaging five per game.

The Maple Leafs have scored seven goals in each of their last two games, a 7-6 win over the Chicago Blackhawks and a 7-4 triumph over the Dallas Stars, opening their four-game road trip 2-0.

Toronto center Auston Matthews leads the league in goals (seven) and points (10). Matthews has scored in every game and is on pace to finish with 144 goals. John Tavares has six goals, five in the past two games.

“When we move the puck well and keep things simple, we’ve got a lot of talent and skill out there,” Matthews told the team’s official website. “When we can find each other, we’ve got different weapons that can all score.”

The Red Wings recognize that they’ll need to find a way to slow Toronto’s potent attack.

“It’s going to be fun night,” Detroit defenseman Joe Hicketts said. “Hopefully they used up all their goals in the first couple of games here. They’re definitely a high-octane team, a team that thrives on the power play.

“They got a lot of weapons that can put the puck in the net. It’s about managing the puck. Staying out of the (penalty) box is going to be a big key and then limiting their grade-A chances. If we can do that, I think we can set ourselves up for some success.”

The last thing the Red Wings can afford to do is get into a track meet and trade chances with the Maple Leafs.

“Against Toronto, we know if we turn it over it’s in the back of our net, so that’s going to be a hard and intense game,” Detroit forward Anthony Mantha said. “We want to get that win as fast as we can. I don’t think we’ve played bad, we just need to put a little extra effort to get that win.”

The Red Wings will be without rookie defenseman Dennis Cholowski, out at least the next two games due to an upper-body injury. Detroit defensemen Mike Green (viral infection of the liver), Jonathan Ericsson (lower body injury) and Trevor Daley (upper body injury) are also out.

On the plus side, defenseman Niklas Kronwall (undisclosed injury) will make his season debut.