TORONTO - The Maple Leafs’ top forward line has hardly been setting the world on fire lately — and on Saturday they pretty much stuck to that script.
Unfortunately for the home side, despite a few other players rising to the occasion, the Leafs fell 5-4 to the Red Wings, courtesy of shootout goals from ACC whipping boy Daniel Alfredsson and Pavel Datsyuk.
It means the Leafs collected three of a possible six points to close out the three-game homestand and, while it’s progress, all things considered, the clouds of doubt will continue to linger.
Coming into the Winter Classic preview, centre Nazem Kadri and wingers Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk — all so strong in flashes this season — had combined for a modest four points in Toronto’s previous five contests.
Van Riemsdyk and Kessel picked up assists on Joffrey Lupul’s power-play goal in the second period, but JVR fanned in the shootout and the line was not nearly as dominant as it needs to be.
Crazy save by ex-Leaf Jonas Gustavsson on Phaneuf in the second period. The Monster somehow got a paddle on the defenceman’s incoming shot before it could cross the crease ... Defenceman Mark Fraser and Paul Ranger were once again healthy scratches for the Leafs alongside Frazer McLaren and you have to wonder if that’ll change any time soon ... The famous rivalry between the clubs was played up on the big screen above centre ice prior to the game. A big cheer erupted in the stands as it was shown that Toronto held a 276-275 edge in wins ... Alfredsson wasn’t wearing a Senators jersey this time, but that didn’t stop the 19,508 in attendance from booing the ex-Senator.Follow @SlamSports