James Reimer Leads Leafs Past Penguins

The Canadian Press | Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

TORONTO - James Reimer wanted to keep things simple.

It had been a while since he started a game for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and his return came against Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the potent Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Maybe there was some circumstances surrounding the game, but honestly I didn't really pay much attention to them or think about them much," Reimer said. "It was just the Toronto Maple Leafs playing the Pittsburgh Penguins, and I was trying to get in the way of pucks."

Reimer got in the way of a lot of pucks Saturday night as he was the backbone of the Leafs' 4-1 victory over the Penguins at Air Canada Centre. The 26-year-old made 37 saves to give Nazem Kadri the chance to score the game winner, and many of his stops came when the majority of the action was in the Leafs' zone.

"You don't win in this league without goaltending that gives you a chance, and Reims gives us a chance," coach Randy Carlyle said.

Reimer hadn't started since Oct. 17 when he left 32 seconds into Toronto's game against the Carolina Hurricanes after a collision with winger Josh Leivo. The long layoff didn't bother him.

"I felt normal right from the get-go," Reimer said. "I didn't feel any uneasiness or uncertainty, really. The puck dropped, and I was ready to stop it."

Reimer gave up a power-play goal to Kris Letang, the Penguins defenceman's first of the season, 6:52 in but shut the door from there. One of his more memorable saves came on Malkin a few minutes later, and Dave Bolland went right down the ice and tied it up for the Leafs shorthanded.

But Reimer was really tested in the second period when the Penguins turned up the heat on him and outshot the Leafs 16-4. He made a couple of stops on two-on-one rushes, denied Crosby of a one-timer goal at the side of the net and flashed his glove against Matt D'Agostini to the delight of many of the 19,539 fans in attendance.

"I thought he was outstanding," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "There was flurries and pucks around his net he was strong on. ... He certainly was the difference in the second period."

Had Reimer cracked even once, the Penguins might've been able to ride some momentum and cruise past the Leafs. Instead, Toronto still had hope at the second intermission.

"I think that's been the story of our season, for the most part," said James van Riemsdyk, who assisted on Kadri's goal and Phil Kessel's later in the third. "There's been stretches where we get outshot, but our goaltending is making big saves for us. They've gave us a chance almost every night. That's all you can ask for out of your goalies."

All Reimer and Jonathan Bernier seemingly need is a little goal support. Reimer got it Saturday night in the form of a strong third period led by the new-look first line.

Kadri replaced Tyler Bozak between van Riemsdyk and Kessel, and Carlyle said after the victory that Bozak would miss at least 7-10 days with a lower-body injury. Kadri beat Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury 1:26 into the third after smart passes from van Riemsdyk and Kessel but took more pride in stopping Malkin's line.

"We're all on the same page offensively. It was great," Kadri said. "It's not just the offensive side of things, we took care of the D-zone. We were able to shut down a few of their key players."

Bolland, David Clarkson and Mason Raymond also did a good job against Crosby, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz. Malkin finished the night with a minus-3 rating, while Crosby was a minus-2.

As much credit as captain Dion Phaneuf and those forwards got for their defensive play, it eventually came down to Reimer, who didn't fold under a lot of pressure.

"James played great. Both tenders all season have been unbelievable," Clarkson said. "It's always good when you can have that confidence in your goaltending. No matter who goes in net there we have confidence that if we're getting outshot or outplayed, then we know what we can do."

Reimer frustrated the Penguins all night and improved to 4-0-2 in his career against Pittsburgh. But he wasn't crowing about that success.

"They have arguably the best players in the world, and they bring it every time they come and play," Reimer said. "I'm just lucky enough to have teammates step up and play big games. I don't know if it has much to do with me more than the guys in front of me working their butts off. Again tonight I thought they worked as hard as they could, and they really earned it."

NOTES - A CT scan revealed Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul did not have a fracture in his right foot and he will travel with the team on their Western Canadian road trip, according to Carlyle. The team hopes Lupul, who has missed two games after taking a shot off the foot in practice Thursday, will be able to play Tuesday at the Edmonton Oilers. ... Penguins defenceman Rob Scuderi left the game with a lower-body injury late in the first period after taking a hit from Clarkson along the boards. Bylsma did not have an update, saying only that Scuderi would be re-evaluated Sunday.

Scoring Summary
1st Period
06:52PIT PPG - Kris Letang (1) ASST: Evgeni Malkin (7), Paul Martin (3) 1 - 0 PIT
16:33TOR SHG - Dave Bolland (5) ASST: Dion Phaneuf (4) 1 - 1 Tie
2nd Period
3rd Period
01:26TOR Nazem Kadri (4) ASST: Phil Kessel (7), James van Riemsdyk (5) 2 - 1 TOR
17:05TOR PPG - Phil Kessel (7) ASST: James van Riemsdyk (6), Cody Franson (9) 3 - 1 TOR
19:18TOR EN - Dave Bolland (6) ASST: NONE 4 - 1 TOR
Three Stars of the Game
James Reimer
James Reimer
SA: 38TOI: 60:00
GA: 1EV: 28-28
PIM: 0PP: 8-9
SV%: .974SH: 1-1
Phil Kessel
Phil Kessel
G: 1Shots: 1
A: 1Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 2
+/-: 2TOI: 17:39
Dave Bolland
Dave Bolland
G: 2Shots: 3
A: 0Hits: 2
PTS: 2PIM: 2
+/-: 2TOI: 22:39
Penalty Summary
1st Period
06:15TOR Paul Ranger  Interference against  Joe Vitale
09:23PIT Sidney Crosby  Tripping against  Mason Raymond
11:59TOR Phil Kessel  Slashing against  Jussi Jokinen
11:59PIT Jussi Jokinen  Roughing against  Phil Kessel
12:26PIT Evgeni Malkin  Hooking against  Morgan Rielly
14:51TOR Carl Gunnarsson  Hooking against  Chris Kunitz
19:43TOR Frazer McLaren  Fighting (maj) against  Deryk Engelland
19:43PIT Deryk Engelland  Fighting (maj) against  Frazer McLaren
2nd Period
09:55TOR Dave Bolland  Cross checking against  Matt D'Agostini
3rd Period
15:14PIT Brooks Orpik  Slashing against  James van Riemsdyk
shots by period
Team Stats
Power Plays1/31/3
Faceoff Wins3337
Blocked Shots1912
Penalty Minutes1313
2M. NiskanenD0000018:12
3O. MaattaD0002014:40
4R. ScuderiD000007:26
5D. EngellandD000059:04
7P. MartinD01-31024:37
9P. DupuisR0005019:03
12C. KobasewR0001014:26
14C. KunitzL00-14019:27
15T. GlassL0000012:58
16B. SutterC0001017:03
22M. D'AgostiniR00-14013:01
27C. AdamsR0004010:09
36J. JokinenL00-32214:38
44B. OrpikD00-11219:55
46J. VitaleC000309:48
58K. LetangD10-25025:40
71E. MalkinC01-32219:46
87S. CrosbyC00-23223:33
29M. Fleury2629.89758:43
3D. PhaneufD0122025:40
4C. FransonD0111016:36
11J. McClementC0010017:54
12M. RaymondL0014023:06
15P. RangerD0013219:00
21J. van RiemsdykL0215020:32
23T. SmithC000003:21
28C. OrrR0001010:04
36C. GunnarssonD0011220:16
37C. AshtonR0001011:34
38F. McLarenL000153:48
40T. BodieR000103:51
43N. KadriC1014019:46
44M. RiellyD0010016:04
51J. GardinerD0000020:32
63D. BollandC2023222:39
71D. ClarksonR0002021:01
81P. KesselR1121217:39
34J. Reimer3738.97460:00