TORONTO - The Toronto Maple Leafs put the distractions of the past few days behind them to secure a 4-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
And when the game was over, the Leafs raised their sticks to acknowledge their fans.
"I thought we did a really good job of focusing on the process and preparation. That was a big thing for us," said Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf.
Following backlash from Thursday night's win over Tampa Bay — in which the Maple Leafs left the ice without saluting the crowd — the players elected for a modified salute on Saturday, raising their sticks to the 19,311 in attendance in front of their net instead of at centre ice.
"That was something we talked about in our room and we did not want to disrespect our fans at all," said Phaneuf. "We know how much support that we have. That's our new thing now. We wanted to change it up and that's what we're doing now."
Added Jonathan Bernier, who made 26 saves to improve to 7-5-2 on the season: "There was nothing about disrespecting our fans, it was just switching it up. I thought tonight the crowd was great."
Tyler Bozak had a pair of third period goals, including one shorthanded, and Leo Komarov and Peter Holland also scored for Toronto (11-8-2).
The game was tied 1-1 after two periods before Toronto responded with three unanswered goals in the third.
"I think we got back on track, playing the way we need to play," said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. "I thought the game got away from us in the second period. We turned the puck over far too many times and we were receiving the game.
"We were on our heels for the second period."
Tomas Tatar had the lone goal for Detroit (10-5-5). Jimmy Howard made 24 saves in the loss.
"We just weren't cautious with the puck tonight," said Howard, who dropped to 8-4-4 with the loss. "I think it's been key whenever we're careful at both blue-lines and don't turn over in our end and we did that a lot tonight."
The win was Toronto's first over Detroit in three tries this season. The Leafs have now won back-to-back games following a three-game skid which saw Toronto out-scored 17-5. The Leafs also improved to 8-4-1 in their last 13.
Toronto will likely resume its schedule Wednesday night in Pittsburgh without the services of defenceman Roman Polak, who was injured just prior to the Tatar goal after he fell awkwardly on his left leg. Polak left the game favouring his left leg and did not return. The team announced he suffered a lower-body injury.
"Polak will have an MRI tomorrow on the lower-body injury and we'll have an update for you on Monday," said Carlyle. "(It's) serious enough that he'll be out for a while."
Bozak gave the Leafs a 2-1 lead with his short-handed goal early in the third.
The Toronto centre stripped Detroit defenceman Niklas Kronwall of the puck at the Leafs blue-line, went in all alone and beat Howard with a backhand shot glove-side for his seventh of the season at 3:44. It was Bozak's fourth career short-handed goal.
Holland added the insurance goal on a partial breakaway, beating Howard short-side for his fifth of the season with 4:21 remaining in the third period. With the goal, Holland matched his goal totals from last season where he scored five in 39 games for the Leafs. The goal snapped a four-game drought for Holland.
Bozak added an empty-netter with 1:47 remaining in the third for his eighth of the season.
"For the first goal, I just caught a nice break to get a breakaway and luckily it went in, and obviously the last one was an empty netter," said Bozak. "It was nice to get those two goals, and (Holland) scored a huge goal for us to give us a two-goal lead late in the third."
Toronto led 1-0 after 20 minutes thanks to Komarov's second of the season.
Komarov put his shot off Red Wings defenceman Jonathan Ericsson and in at 11:39 of the first. Komarov had just four goals in 42 games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season - his last in the NHL.
Tatar tied it 1-1 at 10:28 of the second period.
The Red Wings forward brushed off a hit from Polak and one-timed a feed from Xavier Ouellet for his ninth of the season. Tatar now has five goals and two assists in five games.
"I thought we really played real well in the second period. In my opinion (we) dominated the second period," said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. "Good win for their team and when you won the first two games on your road trip you like to be greedy.
"You want to win all three and I thought we were set up to do that and we didn't do it."
Saturday was the third of five meetings between the two clubs. They'll reconvene in Toronto on Dec. 13.
Notes: Leafs defenceman Cody Franson saw his nine-game point streak come to an end. It was the longest point streak of Franson's career and came one shy of matching the Leafs record for longest point streak by a defenceman (10 games) held by Tom Kurvers (Jan. 15-Feb. 7, 1990). Saturday was Franson's 200th game in a Leafs uniform.