DETROIT – Out-played for much of Friday’s preseason game, the Red Wings stormed back to take a lead late only to fall in a shootout to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena.
The Leafs controlled much of the game’s tempo, and at one point owned a 3-0 lead in the second period, but the Wings fought back to take a one-goal lead when Niklas Kronwall and Johan Franzen each scored twice.
Yet Toronto managed to salvage a 5-4 win on goals by Nikolai Kuleman and John Mitchell in the shootout.
Franzen tied the score, 3-3, in the third period, and seemingly had the game-winner 14-seconds later, but his goals only provided a short-lived lead for the Wings until Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski forced overtime on a goal with 71-seconds left in regulation.
With only 13 Red Wings’ regular skaters in the lineup, the dog days of training camp were on display with prospects hoping to impress team officials and wily veterans seeking roster spots.
The prospect that shined most was Leafs’ 23-year-old forward Viktor Stalberg, who scored Toronto’s first two goals and assisted on their third.
The Stockholm native gave Toronto a 1-0 lead when he stepped out of the penalty box after serving a minor penalty, roared up the right wing unopposed, and snapped a knuckleball over Chris Osgood’s left shoulder at 9:33.
Less than three-minutes later, Stalberg – who played the last two seasons at the University of Vermont and was a Hobey Baker nominee – was in the right spot for his second goal. Lee Stempniak sent a close-range shot into Osgood’s pads at the right post. The puck deflected to the left side of the crease where Stalberg put the Maple Leafs up 2-0.
Osgood played the entire game and made 27 saves on 31 shots.
The Maple Leafs (5-2-0) entered Friday’s game with 17 fights in six preseason games, and enforcer Jay Rosehill had accounted for five of them. The journeyman, who had 33 AHL fights last season, showed his chippy disposition from the start, and eventually got the drop the gloves in the second period.
After Leafs defenseman Francois Beauchemin dropped Wings prospect Francis Pare with a hard check in the neutral zone. Enter veteran enforcer Brad May – seeking to play for his seventh different NHL team – sought immediate retribution.
May held his own against Rosehill, who is 13-years younger than the 37-year-old veteran. After a series of haymakers thrown by both players, Rosehill dropped May before falling on the Wings’ forward.
May’s fight was not by accident. The veteran is looking for a new NHL home and the Wings have given him an opportunity when they invited him to camp on a pro tryout this week. The Red Wings could use the added toughness that May could inject into the lineup with the recent losses of Darren McCarty, Aaron Downey and Dallas Drake.
May, who has logged more than 2,100 penalty minutes with six different NHL clubs could likely start the season with the Wings’ AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.
Toronto built a three-goal cushion in the second period when another prospect, Nazem Kadri, took a drop pass as he crossed the blue line – and using a Wings’ defenseman as a screen – the Leafs’ first-round pick last July snapped a shot past Osgood at 10:28.
The Wings (2-3-1) trimmed their deficit to two-goals when Kronwall sent a snap shot past goalie Vesa Toskala at 14:53 of the second.
The Wings and Maple Leafs will play again on Saturday evening at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The game can be seen on CBC beginning at 7 p.m. EDT.
Snap shot -
1 - 0 TOR
2 - 0 TOR
Wrist shot -