Red Wings and Maple Leafs bring dormant rivalry back to life

Sat Dec 21, 2013 11:31pm EST
 
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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - After not meeting for nearly two years, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings will face off twice in 12 days breathing new life into a dormant rivalry that was once one of the NHL's most fierce.

Two of the NHL's 'Original Six' franchises, the Maple Leafs and Red Wings clashed for the 645th time on Saturday with Detroit skating away with a 5-4 shootout win to level the all-time record for the series at 276-276-93.

Even though the Motor City and Canada's financial hub are located just 371 km (230 miles) apart, Toronto and Detroit had not faced off against each other since January 7, 2012 making Saturday's contest a bit of a novelty.

With Detroit stuck in the Western conference and Toronto in the East, meetings had been few and far between but that is about to change.

Realignment has put Leafs and Wings back in the same division guaranteeing four regular season contests, including the league's outdoor showcase, the Winter Classic, on New Year's day.

"There's a lot of history between the two teams and you can kind of rekindle that rivalry this year, especially with us being divisional matchups and obviously coming to the Eastern conference," said Leafs center Nazem Kadri, who grew up midway between the two cities in London, Ontario.

There was plenty of nostalgia hanging over the matchup at Air Canada Centre and more on the way as the NHL pays its annual homage to the game's outdoor roots on January 1 at Michigan Stadium.

The Leafs entered Saturday's game trailing the Red Wings by just two points in the Atlantic division standings with the hype building for a New Year's day showdown that is expected to attract over 100,000 to the Big House.   Continued...

 
Dec 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Red Wings forward Riley Sheahan (15) loses control of the puck as he skates in on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier (45) at the Air Canada Centre. Detroit defeated Toronto 5-4 in an overtime shoot out. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports