Panik, Bernier lead Maple Leafs over Red Wings again
Three days after winning at Detroit while getting outplayed by the Red Wings, the Toronto Maple Leafs were better in the rematch and won again.
Richard Panik scored the go-ahead goal and Jonathan Bernier stopped 27 shots to help the Maple Leafs beat the Red Wings 4-1 on Saturday night.
Toronto won 2-1 in a shootout on Wednesday night in a game Detroit had a 42-19 advantage on shots. This time, the Leafs outshot the Red Wings 41-28.
"We were more energetic," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said of his team's latest win.
That included Panik, whose goal coming off the bench gave Toronto a 2-1 lead with 2:10 remaining in the second period. Defenseman Korbinian Holzer found Panik all alone with a long pass after a Detroit turnover in the Toronto end and the 23-year-old Slovak beat Petr Mrazek between the legs with a gorgeous breakaway move.
"I'm just trying my best every shift," said Panik, who saw less than 9 minutes of ice time. "It doesn't matter if I play five minutes, I'm just focusing on the next shift. Now it's going in the net so I'm really happy and glad about it. Hopefully it will just keep going this way."
Panik now has a career-high six goals for the season, one more than he scored in 50 games last season for Tampa Bay.
"In the minutes he's played, he's always been unbelievable," Holzer said. "You should watch him in practice, he's got some really, really high skill. He's got some nice moves and he showed them on the goal."
Carlyle also credited Panik's play.
"You know that there is more there," Carlyle said. "Because he's in this (fourth-line) situation right now doesn't mean he's going to stay there. At any given time in the game you can feel comfortable, that you can move that player up if things aren't going the way you like. ... He's an interchangeable part and he's a dangerous player."
James van Riemsdyk, Morgan Rielly and Nazem Kadri also scored for Toronto, which has won four straight and is 8-1-1 since a 9-2 home loss to Nashville on Nov. 18. During that time the Leafs have outscored their opponents 41-23.
"That's a pretty good team we beat so I think we're very happy with it," said Rielly.
Niklas Kronwall scored for Detroit and Petr Mrazek had 37 saves. The Red Wings have lost three straight, including a shootout defeat against Florida on Friday night.
"They were a little stronger than us over 60 minutes," Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "There were too many times when we had the puck under control then they have the puck and it's in our net. We've got to be more poised and take care of the puck a little bit better."
Rielly extended the lead at 1:42 of the third and Kadri added an empty-netter with 3:14 remaining.
Mrazek made his fourth start of the season -- his first career outing against Toronto -- as the Wings rested Jimmy Howard after playing Friday. Mrazek, a 22-year-old playing his 15th NHL game, is filling in for the injured Jonas Gustavsson.
James Reimer had been expected to start for Toronto after excelling Wednesday in Detroit but he tweaked his groin in practice. Bernier made his 10th start in 11 games.
Kronwall's power-play goal on a one-time with 4:33 remaining in the first period gave the Red Wings the lead, and the Leafs tied it 60 seconds later on the power play as Phil Kessel's snap shot went in off van Riemsdyk in front of the goal.
Both teams had 12 shots in the first period before Toronto had a 20-5 advantage in the second.
Mrazek made a spectacular save in the second period, flat on his back after stopping Dion Phaneuf's slap shot midway through the period with the Leafs on the power play. The rebound went to Cody Franson and somehow Mrazek got a piece of his body or equipment to the shot to redirect the puck off the post and away.
NOTES: The Wings were without veteran C Stephen Weiss, who left Friday's game with an upper body injury. D Danny DeKeyser was also out after suffering an upper-body injury Wednesday ... Saturday's game was the 653rd all-time meeting between the Original Six teams. It was also the 899th game coached by Detroit's Mike Babcock.