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.
Jul 1, 2015, 8:06 AM EDT
That keeps them in a position to match a potential offer sheet.
Jul 1, 2015, 7:13 AM EDT
Wednesday’s collection of links.
Jun 30, 2015, 11:55 PM EDT
David Poile has made the 35-year-old an offer and given him a deadline.
Jun 30, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT
But this isn’t the first time such a scenario has been reported.
Jun 30, 2015, 9:33 PM EDT
San Jose acquired him from Boston earlier in the day.
Jun 30, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT
He was set to become a restricted free agent on Wednesday.
Jun 30, 2015, 8:27 PM EDT
Detroit’s creating an opportunity for one of its young forwards.
Jun 30, 2015, 8:06 PM EDT
Arizona is getting back its former center.
Jun 30, 2015, 8:04 PM EDT
He’s set to become a restricted free agent on Wednesday.
Jun 30, 2015, 7:36 PM EDT
He hasn’t been charged with a crime, but is reportedly being investigated.
Jun 30, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT
Its reportedly a one-way deal worth $800,000.
Jun 30, 2015, 6:50 PM EDT
The forward was a part of a seven-player trade on Tuesday.
Jun 30, 2015, 6:37 PM EDT
Won NHL’s coach of the year in 2013 with Ottawa.
Jun 30, 2015, 6:07 PM EDT
Where he’ll be reunited with former teammate Ryan Kesler.
Jun 30, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT
Calgary’s GM responded to comments in a Boston Herald story regarding defenseman Dougie Hamilton.
Jun 30, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT
A total of seven players involved in Tuesday’s trade.
Jun 30, 2015, 3:54 PM EDT
RFA defenseman appeared in a career-high 76 games last year.
Jun 30, 2015, 3:39 PM EDT
Rangers and Bruins let their respective rearguards walk, thereby deepening the free agent pool.
Jun 30, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT
So says his agent.
Jun 30, 2015, 2:41 PM EDT
- NHL, Coyotes deny report that team is moving to Vegas 29
- Report: Richards’ border incident involved oxycodone 52
- Trade: Bieksa headed to California — but it’s Anaheim, not San Jose 24
- Trade: Jackets land Saad, Anisimov and Dano headed to Chicago 89
- Hamilton signs six-year deal with Flames 18
- Sharks get Jones from Bruins for first-round pick and unsigned prospect 42
- Hurricanes to buy out Semin 15
- Bruins are talking to teams about Savard, but not Rask 14
- Report: Richards part of police investigation 47
- UFA of the Day: Mike Green 5
- Trade: Flyers send Rinaldo to Bruins for 2017 third-rounder (105)
- Bypassing a buyout? Kings terminate Richards’ contract for ‘material breach’ (90)
- Trade: Jackets land Saad, Anisimov and Dano headed to Chicago (89)
- Trade: Flames land Dougie Hamilton for package of picks (75)
- Trade: Busy Bruins send Lucic to Kings (66)