TORONTO — The William Nylander reunion tour got off to a rocky start.
Dylan Larkin scored in overtime while Jonathan Bernier stopped 27 shots Thursday as the Detroit Red Wings beat Toronto 5-4 in Nylander’s highly anticipated return to the Maple Leafs lineup.
It was a night where everything seemed out of sync — at least until Mike Babcock started juggling his lines with the Leafs trailing 4-1 to start the final period.
The one unit that’s been together all season got things going. First John Tavares sniped a shot past Bernier at 2:38 and then linemate Zach Hyman shovelled a puck over him at 8:50.
Andreas Johnsson tied it 4-4 less than three minutes later by chipping an Auston Matthews rebound in off the end boards.
Larkin scored the winner 2:38 into overtime on a breakaway.
Nylander started the game in his old spot beside Matthews, was moved to a line with Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau and then watched the final 11:37 of the third period and all of overtime from the bench. It was his first action in more than seven months because of an extended contract dispute that kept him out of training camp and Toronto’s first 28 games.
He was cheered by the Scotiabank Arena crowd when he took his first shift, but the building was soon quieted to a whisper.
Jonathan Ericsson, Luke Glendening and Gustav Nyqvist countered an early Kasperi Kapanen goal by beating Leafs backup Garret Sparks and Mike Green extended the lead to 4-1 in the second period.
Originally published at https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/william-nylanders-return-maple-leafs-gets-off-rocky-start/