Auston Matthews told reporters that he's starting to feel like his old self following a shoulder injury that forced him to miss 14 games, a prognosis that is positive for the 21-year-old and extremely negative for potential opponents. Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs bid to keep streaking along on Thursday as they host the Detroit Red Wings in a battle of Original Six rivals.
Matthews collected his second three-point performance in three games on Tuesday as he capped a two-goal effort by scoring with three seconds remaining in overtime of a 4-3 win over Buffalo. The top overall pick of the 2016 NHL Draft has five goals and two assists in that stretch in addition to his two tallies in Toronto's 5-3 victory over Detroit on Oct. 11. While the Maple Leafs have outscored their foes 24-11 during their five-game winning streak, the Red Wings have dropped five of seven after rebounding from a dismal start to the season by winning nine of their previous 11. Frans Nielsen recorded his second career hat trick and Gustav Nyquist tallied twice in Tuesday's 6-5 shootout loss to Tampa Bay.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Detroit, Sportsnet Ontario (Toronto)
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (12-12-4): Injuries are starting to mount for Detroit, which was still reeling from the loss of forward Anthony Mantha to a hand injury when defenseman Danny DeKeyser was on the receiving end of a slap shot from Tampa Bay star forward Steven Stamkos on Tuesday. Coach Jeff Blashill told reporters that DeKeyser is expected to be sidelined "multiple weeks" with a hand injury. "It's hard because Danny's shoes, they really can't be filled. He's a big-minute guy. It's going to be tough without him," fellow blue-liner Nick Jensen said of the Detroit native, who averages a team third-best 21:17 of ice time.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (20-8-0): William Nylander is expected to make his season debut on Thursday, five days removed from signing a six-year contract worth $6.9 million annually. "Hopefully he can do what Auston does, jump right in like he has not missed a beat," veteran Patrick Marleau said of the 22-year-old, who has collected 61 points in each of the last two seasons and 135 (48 goals, 87 assists) in 185 career NHL games. John Tavares leads the team with 17 goals, although he was rather generous in setting up a career-high four tallies in the first encounter versus Detroit.
1. Toronto C Mitch Marner has 11 of his team-leading 33 assists in his last five contests.
2. Red Wings LW Tyler Bertuzzi will sit out the second contest of his two-game suspension against the Maple Leafs after punching an unsuspecting Avalanche LW Matt Calvert on Sunday.
3. Toronto G Frederik Andersen has turned aside 38 shots in each of his last four games -- all wins.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 6, Red Wings 2 Bet Now
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