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.
Mar 12, 2014, 1:21 AM EDT
He received a minor penalty for the hit.
Mar 12, 2014, 1:04 AM EDT
JVR seems OK, though.
Mar 11, 2014, 11:48 PM EDT
Dallas moves into the second wild card spot for now.
Mar 11, 2014, 11:26 PM EDT
The San Jose Sharks aren’t happy about their game, either.
Mar 11, 2014, 10:52 PM EDT
And an interesting one overall for the East.
Mar 11, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT
Another memorable save for the icon.
Mar 11, 2014, 10:07 PM EDT
That’s eight in a row for Pittsburgh between these two teams.
Mar 11, 2014, 9:11 PM EDT
The contest featured his former team the Saginaw Spirit.
Mar 11, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT
The 20-year-old had been missing since March 3.
Mar 11, 2014, 7:49 PM EDT
On the bright side, there’s the Batmobile.
Mar 11, 2014, 7:19 PM EDT
The Pens have won seven in a row vs. Washington, including Monday.
Mar 11, 2014, 5:33 PM EDT
Because there’s a really good chance they will.
Mar 11, 2014, 4:56 PM EDT
Big development for the ‘Hawks.
Mar 11, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT
Click for the details.
Mar 11, 2014, 4:26 PM EDT
All the latest from the blue paint…
Mar 11, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT
“We played well in the first game, but then it all disappeared.”
Mar 11, 2014, 3:49 PM EDT
The sons of George and Brian, respectively.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT
Whether he does or not will impact the Flyers’ roster.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:41 PM EDT
A big defenseman from Lake Superior State.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:18 PM EDT
Burly power forward’s in the midst of a disappointing season.
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- Crosby, Pens continue recent dominance of Ovechkin, Caps 19
- Terry Trafford’s body found in Michigan on Tuesday 8
- PHT Extra: What happens if the Caps miss the playoffs? 17
- Wings can’t afford regulation loss to Jackets 6
- ‘It’s obvious Tortorella can’t come back next year,’ writes Vancouver reporter 57
- NHL on NBCSN: Capitals fight to earn first win vs. Penguins in 26 months 11
- Vanquished: Isles stun Canucks with seven-goal third period 27
- Peverley asked to return to game following ‘cardiac event’ 23
- Peverley hospitalized, conscious after collapsing on Stars bench (Update) 19
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- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack (71)
- Chiasson ‘shaken up’ by Peverley incident, won’t dress for Stars tonight (69)
- ‘It’s obvious Tortorella can’t come back next year,’ writes Vancouver reporter (60)