Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings Pick & Prediction JANUARY 14th 2024

The Toronto Maple Leafs hope to reverse their recent trend of squandering early leads when they face the visiting Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night.

The Maple Leafs built a 3-0 lead in the first period against the visiting Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night before dropping a 5-3 decision.

“If you’re going to win this game and compete against that team, especially when they’re shorthanded like they are with the injuries they have, you have to be even or better on special teams, and you’ve got to be even or better against their best players,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “If you let their power play give them an advantage, and if their best players outplay ours, you’re in tough.”

The collapse followed a 4-3 overtime road loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday. Toronto led 3-1 early in the second period before the bottom fell out.

The defeats follow four straight wins for the Maple Leafs.

Martin Jones has started each of the past seven games in goal for Toronto, however Keefe said that he would not get the nod on Sunday.

“Jones won’t play (Sunday),” Keefe said. “That would be overdoing it. Even though it’s a back-to-back at home, he has played a lot this week already. We’re going to need another guy (Sunday),”

Ilya Samsonov was recalled from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League and was the backup on Saturday. The alternative could be Dennis Hildeby, who is coming off a 20-save shutout for the Marlies against the Belleville Senators on Friday night. He also has been Jones’ backup recently.

The Red Wings moved to 4-0-1 in their past five games following a 5-3 home win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. Captain Dylan Larkin scored two goals versus the Kings.

Toronto will have to recover quickly from its loss on Saturday,

“That’s a tough one,” said defenseman Morgan Rielly, who scored a goal for Toronto. “I thought there were good things at the start of the game, obviously, but then they take over the game, we fight to take it back but it’s obviously challenging.”

“Tough, it (stinks) when you give up a late goal obviously,” Jones said. “They just seemed to have the puck a little bit more (in the second and third period). They were able to cycle around in our zone and create some offense that way. I thought we did a pretty (good) job off the rush controlling their speed, they’re a pretty good team in transition off the rush. I thought we did a pretty good job there but probably spent just too much time in the defensive zone.”

At Detroit, Patrick Kane scored and set up a goal, defenseman Jeff Petry notched two assists and Alex Lyon made 33 saves.

“We had a tough, tough stretch before Christmas, and everyone here knows what position we put ourselves in,” Larkin said. “We weren’t out of it, and now we’ve had a great trip out west, played hard against Edmonton (a 3-2 overtime loss on Thursdays) and had one of our best performances tonight.”

Larkin put Detroit back in front 2-1 at 9:17 of the second period during a five-on-three power play.

“I thought we were playing well when it was 1-1, but then we got the offense going,” Larkin said. “We kind of took over, which is great to see.”

The Red Wings, have not made the playoffs since 2016, currently stand just one point out of the wild card in the Eastern Conference.

–Field Level Media

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