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William Nylander is being sold as the poster child of Swedish hockey during the Global Series in Stockholm this week, and on Friday he lived up to the billing, as the Toronto Maple Leafs forward scored a goal and two assists in a 3-2 comeback win over the Detroit Red Wings at the Avicil Arena.
Toronto followed a familiar script in the contest, digging themselves a 2-0 hole after two periods, on a penalty shot goal from Daniel Sprong and Lucas Raymond’s seventh of the season. The Leafs awakened from their slumber in the third, with the line of Nylander, John Tavares, and Tyler Bertuzzi doing most of the damage.
The former Red Wing scored his fourth of the season to get Toronto on the board, Nylander tied the game on the power play, and Tavares scored the game-winner with 5:33 remaining on a setup by Bertuzzi.
“We didn’t have a whole lot going on in the first two periods in terms of pace, tempo, and all of that kind of stuff. We found it in the third period for sure and gave ourselves a chance.” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said after the game. “We were still trying to use four lines, but I was trying to use the Tavares line more every third shift and move the other guys around. I thought they had a little something going. Willie certainly drove it, but Tavares and Bertuzzi were excellent as well.”
It was undoubtedly the best performance by Bertuzzi as a Leaf, who was unquestionably motivated to stick it to his former club. His play on the game-winner was particularly poignant for Toronto fans, as he stole the puck away from Justin Holl and quickly moved to the front of the net to feed Tavares.
Ilya Samsonov made 26 saves and was not sharp on Raymond’s go-ahead goal, but was solid down the stretch keeping the game close until the Leafs began their comeback.
Toronto will finish off their two games in Scandinavia against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.