Oct 6, 2011, 10:32 PM EDT
Don’t blame Toronto Maple Leafs fans for feeling exhilarated right now, even if it’s just one game.
The team still has unsolved questions – the most pressing one might regard the health of center Tim Connolly – but two of their wild cards came up aces in a 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens tonight. James Reimer looked sharp in his first game of the season, stopping 32 shots on his way to a shutout. Reimer earned the Maple Leafs’ first opening night shutout since Oct. 7, 2000, when the team produced another 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens. (Curtis Joseph was the Leafs goalie on that night, making 26 saves.)
Judging Reimer’s outlook based on one game is even more dangerous than assuming that his first 25 NHL games are a clear indication of the future, but it was still a great performance. The Maple Leafs were out-shot 32-18 in their season opener, but Reimer was the biggest difference-maker.
As if that wasn’t dazzling enough, the Leafs enjoyed great nights from their sometimes-criticized marquee players. That was most clearly seen in the game’s insurance goal; Phil Kessel made a heads-up play and then sent a nice pass to captain Dion Phaneuf, who rifled a shot past Carey Price.
Coming back from tough injuries
Leafs fans might have seen those performances coming, but Matthew Lombardi‘s contribution was far more surprising. He didn’t just manage to play earlier than expected in his first game back from concussion issues; Lombardi notched the game-winning goal on a rebound while playing shorthanded. Lombardi and Mike Brown created a rush on the penalty kill, as a shot sent Carey Price to the ground. Price couldn’t get up in time to stop Lombardi, who pounced on a rebound to score his first goal since April 10, 2010.
Overall, it was quality over quantity for Lombardi, though. He only played a little more than 11 minutes and took just two faceoffs (which he lost). You can understand head coach Ron Wilson’s decision to ease him back into the lineup, though.
Speaking of players returning from tough injuries, Max Pacioretty played in his first regular season game since that ill-fated Zdeno Chara hit last season. The up-and-coming Habs winger played a bit more than 15 minutes, threw two hits, took four shots and had a -1 rating.
Again, some Toronto fans are probably dreaming of watching their players shake open champagne bottles and raise the Stanley Cup, but most are reasonable enough to put this win in perspective. Seeing a sharp Reimer and a healthy Lombardi – not to mention good games from Phaneuf and Kessel – won’t make them feel glum, though, either.
May 26, 2015, 1:13 AM EDT
Monday’s tough loss hasn’t weakened his resolve.
May 26, 2015, 12:21 AM EDT
Matt Beleskey scored the game winner after initially losing his second line spot.
May 26, 2015, 12:03 AM EDT
Chicago was trailing for most of the game.
May 25, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT
It was a reversal from the first frame.
May 25, 2015, 10:57 PM EDT
Maple Leafs prospect Frederik Gauthier had a big game too.
May 25, 2015, 10:11 PM EDT
The first period was all Anaheim.
May 25, 2015, 9:42 PM EDT
The Ducks got off to an ideal start.
May 25, 2015, 9:17 PM EDT
Emerson Etem is a healthy scratch.
May 25, 2015, 8:29 PM EDT
He needed to keep his wrist frozen to play.
May 25, 2015, 7:25 PM EDT
He was linked to Nashville’s playoff curfew incident.
May 25, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT
The series is tied at 2-2.
May 25, 2015, 5:43 PM EDT
There’s going to be a fight for the No. 1 gig in Detroit.
May 25, 2015, 4:41 PM EDT
Reports out of Swift Current, Saskatchewan.
May 25, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT
May 25, 2015, 3:58 PM EDT
They’re expected to speak again before July 1.
May 25, 2015, 3:31 PM EDT
“One bounce here or there, it’s a different story.”
May 25, 2015, 2:10 PM EDT
Made his NHL debut last season, appearing in 16 games.
May 25, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT
He’s eligible to sign an extension this summer.
May 25, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT
“Everyone involved with the ZSC Lions is so excited about seeing him play in Zurich.”
May 25, 2015, 12:44 PM EDT
This won’t quell the Kevin Bieksa trade speculation.
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