TORONTO — Dylan Larkin scored three times to register the second hat trick of his career and Alex Nedeljkovic made 42 saves as the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Sunday night.
Olli Maatta, with a goal and an assist, and Jonatan Berggren provided the rest of offence for Detroit (34-33-9). Moritz Seider added two assists.
Calle Jarnkrok and John Tavares replied for Toronto (45-21-10).
Matt Murray allowed two goals on seven shots for the Leafs before getting injured late in the first period.
Ilya Samsonov, who made 31 stops in Saturday’s 3-0 shutout victory over the Ottawa Senators, finished with 13 saves relief in relief.
Locked into a first-round playoff matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning and sitting in the Atlantic Division’s No. 2 spot, Toronto rested star winger Mitch Marner, along with defencemen Jake McCabe and Mark Giordano.
The Wings, who are poised to miss the playoffs for the seventh straight season despite making some good strides with a young core, opened the scoring 90 seconds into the first period when Maatta scored his sixth goal of the campaign after the defenceman took advantage of a turnover and raced in on a breakaway.
Coming off Saturday’s convincing victory in the nation’s capital, the Leafs responded when Jarnkrok deposited his 19th — and first in 24 all-time appearances against the team that drafted him 51st overall in 2010 — as a Detroit penalty expired.
Toronto centre David Kampf was then stopped on a penalty shot before Berggren fired his 14th upstairs on Murray off a broken play for a 2-1 lead.
The Leafs goaltender left the game moments later when Wings forward Lucas Raymond lost an edge and accidentally sent the 28-year-old tumbling in the crease.
Larkin would beat Samsonov with 38.2 seconds left in the period to give him a career-high 75 points on the season and a 3-1 advantage through 20 minutes.
Nedeljkovic made 14 saves in the middle period and then smothered a Tavares effort early in the third, but the Leafs captain tipped his 33rd past the Detroit netminder on a power play to cut the deficit to one.
Toronto led 11-0 on the shot clock in the period before Larkin slid home a rebound for his 30th to make it 4-2.
Samsonov made an incredible glove save to deny Berggren his second of the night with under seven minutes left in regulation.
But Larkin found the empty net from his own end with 2:12 remaining and Nedeljkovic held the fort the rest of the way to secure his third straight victory after spending most of the season in the minors.
ABRUZZESE GETS A LOOK
Toronto forward Nick Abruzzese made his season debut after getting recalled from the American Hockey League on an emergency basis.
A fourth-round pick in 2019, the 23-year-old had a goal in nine games with the Leafs in 2021-22.
Abruzzese has 15 goals and 44 points in 65 appearances with the Toronto Marlies this season.
Veteran winger Wayne Simmonds also got back in the lineup with the Leafs resting Marner, McCabe and Giordano, while defenceman Connor Timmins dressed for the first time since Feb. 24.
Detroit centre Marco Kasper, the No. 8 pick at the 2022 draft, made his NHL debut.
The 18-year-old Austrian played the last three seasons in Sweden, putting up eight goals and 23 points in 52 games in the country’s top division in 2022-23.
“Dream come true,” Kasper said following Sunday’s morning skate. “Can’t get any better … it’s just surreal.”
Leafs: Host last-place Columbus on Tuesday before visiting first-place Boston on Thursday.
Wings: Visit Montreal on Tuesday and welcome Buffalo on Thursday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2023.
Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press