Skip to content

James Reimer exhilarates Leafs fans with 32-save shutout

Oct 6, 2011, 10:32 PM EDT

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs Getty Images

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.

Latest Posts
  1. NHL expansion talks emphatically shot down

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT

    Bill Daly and Gary Bettman Getty Images

    “We haven’t defined a process and certainly no decisions have been made.”

  2. Under Pressure: Jimmy Howard

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT

    howardjimmygetty Getty Images

    Needs to bounce back after last year’s disappointing campaign.

  3. Flames re-sign shot-blocking ace Bouma

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT

    Calgary Flames v New York Islanders Getty Images

    Finished second in the NHL among forwards last year, with 87.

  4. Looking to make the leap: Anthony Mantha

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT

    AnthonyMantha

    Former Quebec league sniper is gunning for a gig in Detroit.

  5. Report: Rangers show interest in Malone

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:57 AM EDT

    Ryan Malone Getty Images

    Former Tampa Bay forward was bought out of his contract earlier this summer, following legal troubles.

  6. Red Wings’ playoff streak borders on historic, but does it matter?

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT

    Gustav Nyquist AP

    The Red Wings are rebuilding on the fly, but are they assembling a future Cup contender?

  7. Despite ‘nightmare’ season, Clarkson excited for future

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    David Clarkson Getty Images

    He’ll enter the second season of his seven-year, $36.75 million contract.

  8. It’s Detroit Red Wings day on PHT

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Henrik Zetterberg Getty Images

    They have made it to the playoffs for 23 straight seasons.

  9. NHL-to-Vegas talks gaining steam

    Aug 26, 2014, 9:57 PM EDT

    NHL Awards - Show Getty Images

    A recent report has added new fuel to the speculation on that subject.

  10. Johnston will enter camp looking for wingers for Malkin

    Aug 26, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    Evgeni Malkin Getty Images

    Dupuis and Hornqvist are two of the main options.

  11. Poll: Who should be Columbus’ next captain?

    Aug 26, 2014, 7:23 PM EDT

    Columbus Blue Jackets v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game One Getty Images

    Will they go another season without one?

  12. No Vezina repeat, but Bobrovsky remains Jackets’ MVP

    Aug 26, 2014, 6:11 PM EDT

    Columbus Blue Jackets' goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, of Russia, is silhouetted as he stands in front of his net before an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver, British Columbia, Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) AP

    He’s going into the final season of his bridge contract.

  13. Bishop not 100 percent, aims to be ‘close’ before opener

    Aug 26, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT

    Ben Bishop AP

    He’s looking to build off of his breakout campaign.

  14. Oilers remain hopeful Schultz will sign before camp

    Aug 26, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT

    Justin Schultz Getty Images

    The restricted free agent is likely to get a one or two-year deal.

  15. Under Pressure: Nathan Horton

    Aug 26, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT

    Columbus Blue Jackets v San Jose Sharks Getty Images

    Injuries prevented him from doing much in the first season of his seven-year, $37.1 million deal.

  16. Looking to make the leap: Alexander Wennberg

    Aug 26, 2014, 1:44 PM EDT

    Sweden v United States - 2013 USA Hockey Junior Evaluation Camp Getty Images

    He could follow in Boone Jenner’s footsteps.

  17. Berube: Lecavalier needs to ‘get over’ trade rumors

    Aug 26, 2014, 12:38 PM EDT

    LecavalierPhilly Getty Images

    “I have to do a little bit better job managing him and he’s got to buy into the team.”

  18. Report: Moore, Bertuzzi still negotiating confidentiality pact

    Aug 26, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT

    Bertuzzi Moore

    But per Bertuzzi’s lawyer, the settlement has been agreed upon.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. C. Price (1886)
  2. J. Harding (1821)
  3. J. Thornton (1802)
  4. J. Giguere (1581)
  5. A. Semin (1527)
  1. J. Spezza (1519)
  2. C. MacArthur (1506)
  3. M. Staal (1459)
  4. S. Crosby (1156)
  5. R. Johansen (1141)