(Photo credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports)
Playing in Sweden during his NHL career is something that William Nylander never expected.
He's one of five Toronto Maple Leafs of Swedish heritage who will face the Detroit Red Wings in Stockholm on Friday. The Leafs will be playing the first of two games in Global Series Sweden.
"It's been adream to come back here and play. I didn't think that would happen in my career, to play NHL games in Sweden. So that's going to be very special," Nylander said. "It's great for team building to get out here. And we'll do some things together while we're here, so I think that will be very good for the team."
Toronto, which faces Minnesota on Sunday before returning home, hasn't played since a 5-2 home victory over Vancouver. Nylander scored his 10th goal in the contest, giving him a team-best 22 points.
"Knowing Will, he likes to keep the focus on the hockey," coach Sheldon Keefe said. "He'll get his obligations out of the way and all that, and I know all our Swedish guys especially would be excited to play on the weekend."
Toronto arrived in Sweden on Tuesday, so the players have had time to enjoy the sights before getting down to business on Friday.
"You see the guys back in their home country, just the smiles and everything. I've found the Swedish guys are a really tight-knit group. We kind of joke around with them about it a bit," forward Auston Matthews said. "I'm sure this is a really cool experience for them."
The Red Wings played their Global Series opener on Thursday. Detroit trailed Ottawa 4-0 midway through the second period, knotted the score before the period ended, then lost in overtime 5-4.
Lucas Raymond, the lone Swede on Detroit's roster, started the comeback with a breakaway goal.
"You never want to be in that position, down 4-0," goaltender James Reimer said. "We were playing a solid game and things just weren't working out. We just battled and battled and found a way to get a point. I hope at the end of the year we can look back and realize this point was a big one for us. That's the only way we can look at it."
Detroit killed off four third-period penalties but lost on Tim Stutzle's goal with two seconds left in OT.
"Very disappointing," Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. "We had chances in overtime. We had good looks and with the penalties, we did a good job killing them. But it's hard to be in that spot, and we did a good job getting a point tonight."
With top goalie Ville Husso in Detroit for the birth of his first child, coach Derek Lalonde could give third-stringer Alex Lyon his first start this season. Lyon appeared in 15 regular-season games with Florida last season.
"It would be awesome," Lyon said. "It's cool being here in Sweden and being with the team. For me, it's always just a matter of trying to climb the ladder, and that's really what it is about. I want as much NHL time as I can get. I want to continue to prove myself at this level."
This is the first of three meetings this season between the Original Six teams.
--Field Level Media