TORONTO -- The thrills lasted through regulation, overtime, and past a game the Red Wings salvaged with minutes to go and then settled in a shoot-out.
Daniel Alfredsson and Pavel Datsyuk scored in the shoot-out to give the Wings a 5-4 victory over the Maple Leafs on Saturday night at Air Canada Centre, in the first meeting of the two teams who have a Jan. 1 date in the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.
It was the Wings' first shoot-out win of the season. They had lost 11 straight shoot-outs, six this season.
Datsyuk, Joakim Andersson and Tomas Jurco had first-period goals, and Tomas Tatar tied the game with six minutes to go in regulation.
The Wings had just ended a six-game winless streak with an emotional overtime victory at home. The good work continued into the first period at Toronto, in which the Wings scored three straight goals after Cody Franson had excited Leafs fans with an unassisted goal at 7:15. Datsyuk leveled that within two minutes, snapping a shot behind James Reimer. Andersson then got a pass from Alfredsson and quickly turned it into a wrap-around goal.
Jurco, freshly up from the minors last week, scored for the second time in four games when he got the puck while all alone in the slot. Jurco pulled up and went to his backhand, giving Detroit a 3-1 lead with two minutes to go in the first period. Riley Sheahan had two assists in the period, the first points of his NHL career.
The Wings were still without a slew of players, including Henrik Zetterberg, but Danny DeKeyser's return from a 15-game layoff paid dividends as he assisted on the first goal. Scrambling lines was another good move -- Tatar gained from playing with Datsyuk, and Andersson benefited from having Alfredsson on his wing. Jurco and Sheahan translated their chemistry from Grand Rapids onto a larger show.
Toronto replaced Reimer with Jonathan Bernier to start the second period. The goaltending story at the other end had been a bigger story, as the game marked Jonas Gustavsson's return to the place he called home before signing with the Wings. He didn't see many shots, but he made a highlight reel save on Dion Phaneuf shortly after letting in a Phaneuf slap shot, denying the puck so close to the goal line many fans thought it was a goal.
The Wings had to kill off a third straight penalty with three minutes to go in the second period, when Kyle Quincey went off for high-sticking, but couldn't when Joffrey Lupul scored.
While the Wings weren't able to break Bernier, the Leafs got through Gustavsson one more time, at 8:32 of the third period. David Clarkson took a stab at a rebound, and though Gustavsson had the initial save under his right leg as he got knocked to the ice, a crush led by his own teammates pushed Gustavsson into his net and the puck over the goal line.
Tatar came through with six minutes to go, stealthily staying deep in Toronto's zone, which allowed him to be in position to tap in Niklas Kronwall's rebound and tie the game.
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