Matt Iaboni March 22, 2011
Xcel Energy Center
St. Paul, MN
The Leafs were looking to jump out to a strong start against a desperate Wild and that is exactly what they did. Tyler Bozak found a streaking Joffrey Lupul who roofed it for the 1-0 lead just 1:39 in.
It put the Wild in a hole and they were never able to recover. Mikhail Grabovski and Carl Gunnarsson scored in the second and third respectively to increase the lead. It was the Leafs' third win in their last four games to stay five points out of eighth place.
The incredible story of James Reimer continued on Tuesday. With tons of friends and family in attendance he was marvelous in recording his third career shutout in his 29th career game.
The Wild had three breakaway chances but Reimer stopped John Madden twice both shorthanded and he denied Chuck Kobasew. Reimer finished the night with 29 saves picking up his 16th win of the season, the same total that Jonas Gustavsson had in 2009-10.
Carl Gunnarsson played a solid game Tuesday. Not only did he score his fourth goal of the season, he led all Leafs in ice-time with 26:08.
Gunnarsson played a key special teams' role in the win as he saw time on the penalty kill and power play. He was rewarded in the third period by becoming just the second Leafs' defenceman to score a power-play goal this season. He tied for the team lead in shots with three while also having two hits and four blocked shots.
21-0-4. That is the Leafs' record this season when they are leading after 40 minutes. In Tuesday's win, the Leafs did a great job in the third period of sending in one forechecker and having the other four players clog up the neutral zone to prevent odd man rushes.
The other area that the Leafs have been better at in the last two games is scoring the first goal. They are now 18-4-6 when opening the scoring and it is something that they need to do more of down the stretch.
"He was steady in there but, again, fairly well rested and you could just see the energy in our whole team. It just wasn't the goalie. Everybody was on top of things. We had a few rough moments but you're going to have that in a game. But Reims came up big and I'm glad that we managed to get a shutout for him, too."
Thursday, March 24 @ Colorado Avalanche
9 PM ET (Sportsnet, AM640)
The road trip continues when the Leafs travel to Colorado to face an Avalanche team that has won twice in their last 11 games including a 5-4 shootout win Tuesday.
The Avalanche currently sit in 14th place in the Western Conference. Matt Duchene scored twice Tuesday and he now has 25 goals on the season a new career high.