Oct 6, 2011, 10:32 PM EST
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.
Mar 3, 2015, 2:17 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
Mar 3, 2015, 2:16 PM EST
He didn’t sign with them to lose.
Mar 3, 2015, 1:32 PM EST
Ex-Dallas winger could open up playing alongside the Detroit captain.
Mar 3, 2015, 1:10 PM EST
“Is it his fault we’re losing? No. Did he build this team? No.”
Mar 3, 2015, 12:28 PM EST
“Matt’s priority is to remain in Anaheim for many years to come. Hopefully we can make that happen.”
Mar 3, 2015, 11:56 AM EST
Sens are making a run in the East, but it’s still the Bruins’ spot to lose.
Mar 3, 2015, 11:06 AM EST
“Players would have to come to me.”
Mar 3, 2015, 10:55 AM EST
The other new guy, Sean Bergenheim, will play with Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle.
Mar 3, 2015, 10:41 AM EST
The two squads will play again on Sunday.
Mar 3, 2015, 10:35 AM EST
Plenty of roster spots to be filled in Buffalo after yesterday’s deadline.
Mar 3, 2015, 9:57 AM EST
Is this a sign of what they should expect to face as free agents?
Mar 3, 2015, 9:11 AM EST
This was a key win for San Jose.
Mar 3, 2015, 8:56 AM EST
Tampa Bay needs to get hot to challenge the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens.
Mar 3, 2015, 8:00 AM EST
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Mar 2, 2015, 11:23 PM EST
Kimmo Timonen and Antoine Vermette made their debuts.
Mar 2, 2015, 10:49 PM EST
San Jose beat Montreal 4-0 on Monday.
Mar 2, 2015, 9:56 PM EST
An impressive effort for a team going all-in.
Mar 2, 2015, 9:03 PM EST
Then again, Taylor Beck’s helper might have been better.
Mar 2, 2015, 8:14 PM EST
He’ll pair with Sergei Gonchar to start.
Mar 2, 2015, 7:31 PM EST
Adding versatility in a tough West.
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