Led by their young superstars, the Leafs skilled their way to a 5-3 victory at Little Caesars Arena. The Wings kept the score close thanks to Jimmy Howard and a resilient third period, but they burned themselves with penalties. Auston Matthews scored twice on power plays to put his goal total for the season at nine — that’s as many as the Wings have through four games.
Howard finished with 32 saves as the Leafs scored an empty-net goal with 20 seconds to go.
The Wings dropped to 0-2-2 and will go on the road for four games.
Two minutes into the second period, the Leafs went ahead 2-1. Zach Hyman had the puck near the net and sent it across the low slot to Mitch Marner, who one-timed it. Libor Sulak took the first of two penalties that period at 6:03, and the Leafs made the Wings pay. Matthews scored his eighth goal of the season at 7:30, sending a rising shot past Nick Jensen and finding an open inch stick-side on Howard.
When the Wings went on a power play at 8:33, the difference in talent was obvious. The Wings managed to get into the offensive zone maybe three times — and never near the net. Mostly they were chasing the puck, getting into the neutral zone and then losing possession. The Wings didn’t have a shot on net the rest of the period, and were outshot, 15-5, in the second period overall.
Matthews scored again nine seconds into a power play in the third period when he had an open angle on the net.
The Wings had a good jump to start the third period, but no luck. On one sequence, Thomas Vanek took a shot that hit the left goal post. Dylan Larkin was able to get to the rebound, and he fired a shot — that went off the same post.
The Wings pulled within 4-3 at 13:56 when Larkin fired a shot that Frederik Andersen made a grab for as Tyler Bertuzzi tried to get his stick on the puck. After a quick review, officials ruled goal was good. That was part of an 18-shot barrage in the third period
The Wings grabbed a 1-0 lead at 7:18 of the first period when Darren Helm rushed into Toronto’s zone and wired a pass cross-ice for Jensen, who scored his first goal of the season. The Wings next killed off a penalty to Danny DeKeyser, a notable accomplishment given the Leafs entered the game with a power play operating at a 50 percent success rate.
But the second half of the first period did not go as well. Howard was busy in his net, as the Leafs came in waves. They made it 1-1 at 15:48 when Morgan Rielly provided an example of what Wings coach Jeff Blashill has been urging his players to do: He shot off a pass.
Jensen scored again at 10:18 of the third period to cut the Leafs’ lead to one goal.