Michael Grabner snaps 30-game goal drought with game-winner
Leafs winger’s 7th of season deals Red Wings crippling loss
When you haven't scored in 30 games, how the puck crosses the goalline matters little.
In the final minute of the second period on Sunday, no one stood between Toronto Maple Leafs forward Michael Grabner and Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek.
Looking to snap a scoreless tie, he was sprung loose by a beautiful pass from linemate P.A. Parenteau. The 28-year-old Grabner, who charged hard for the Red Wings net with defenceman Danny DeKeyser close behind, soon was hauled down and subsequently awarded a penalty shot.
But before Grabner could line up at centre ice, he was awarded his seventh goal of the season after video review. Mrazek made the save but when he kicked out the puck, it settled under Grabner's butt and the latter's momentum carried him and the puck over the line.
Well that was just how I practiced it..I will take it tho and glad it didn't come to a penalty shot with my 0% success rate <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/usethat?src=hash">#usethat</a>🍑—@grabs40
Grabner is no stranger to goal droughts this season, his first in Toronto. A 34-goal man with the New York Islanders in the 2010-11 campaign, his first goal with the Leafs didn't come until his 23rd start in a 6-1 loss at Winnipeg on Dec. 2, the longest drought to open the season in his six-plus NHL seasons.
After five goals and seven points in December, Grabner had just a goal and an assist, both in the same game, in 12 contests in January. He then went 16 starts without a point before collecting an assist in a 4-3 shootout loss to Buffalo on March 7.
On Sunday, Grabner's first goal since Jan. 2 in a 4-1 Toronto win over St. Louis stood up as the game winner at Joe Louis Arena and was crippling to a Detroit outfit fighting for a playoff spot.
A win earlier Sunday by the Pittsburgh Penguins moved them atop the wild-card race in the Eastern Conference with 80 points and dropped the Red Wings to the second wild-card spot with 79, three more than the Philadelphia Flyers, who have two games in hand.