Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto Maple Leafs Make It Back-to-Back Wins over the Detroit Red Wings

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto Maple Leafs Make It Back-to-Back Wins over the Detroit Red Wings

Article excerpt

Leafs score back-to-back wins over the Wings

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TORONTO - Despite seeing less than nine minutes of ice time Saturday, Toronto fourth-liner Richard Panik was just an assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick.

Panik notched the winner with a second-period highlight-reel goal and then pounded away at Detroit defenceman Brendan Smith in the dying minutes of the Leafs' 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.

Goalie Jonathan Bernier made 27 saves as the Leafs recorded back-to-back victories over the Wings. Toronto won 2-1 in a shootout Wednesday in Detroit in a game that saw the Leafs outshot 42-19. On Saturday, Toronto outshot Detroit 41-28.

Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said the Leafs showed a far better work ethic than in Detroit.

"We were more energetic," he said.

That included Panik, whose goal coming off the bench gave Toronto a 2-1 lead at 17:50 of the second period. Defenceman 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. "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 potted in 50 games last season in Tampa.

"In the minutes he's played, he's always been unbelievable," said Holzer. "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."

"He can even throw it," added Holzer, referring to the fight -- Panik's first in the NHL.

Carlyle said there is a big up-side to Panik.

"That's the great thing about guys like Richard. You know that there is more there," said Carlyle. "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 higher in our lineup.

"He's an interchangeable part and he's a dangerous player."

James van Riemsdyk, Morgan Rielly and Nazem Kadri, with an empty-netter at 16:46 of the third period, also scored for Toronto before a crowd of 19,063 at the Air Canada Centre.

"That's a pretty good team we beat so I think we're very happy with it," said Rielly.

Bernier, who made his 10th start in 11 games, called it the Leafs' best game of the season.

Niklas Kronwall scored for Detroit, which lost despite scoring first, dominating the faceoff circle by a 42-17 margin and getting a fine performance from backup goalie Mrazek.

"They were a little stronger than us over 60 minutes," said Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg. "There were too many times when we had the puck under control then they have the puck and it's in our net. …

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