The Leafs had a tough task ahead of them tonight, ending off an up-and-down week (or maybe it was down-and-up) hosting the Blackhawks on the second half of a back-to-back. Then James Reimer happened.
Let me just start by saying this was a great game to watch beginning to end, about as far from last Saturday’s game against the Bruins as any Leafs fan could want. Toronto had a solid start, getting on the board first on a Kadri goal from a nice feed from Winnik. The Hawks responded with a powerplay goal from Richards, and the first ended tied at 1, shots even at 10 apiece.
Special teams were kind to the Hawks again to start the second as they quickly scored another goal with the man-advantage, Seabrook notching a slapshot past Reimer. I thought that one might deflate the Leafs a little, as the Hawks looked to start taking over, but van Riemsdyk pounced on a brutal giveaway from Oduya and tied things up again quickly. Things got sort of run-and-gun from there for both teams, but remained even on the scoreboard heading into the third, 2-2.
The Leafs started the third with Peter Holland’s first goal of the season to take the lead, and then the Hawks took over. Like, “Bruins with 10 minutes left in game seven” took over. Reimer was absolutely spectacular in keeping the Leafs afloat under a barrage of shots (final tally 47-27 in favour of Chicago), and Toronto escaped with a regulation win, their third straight.
For the second half of a back-to-back against one of the league’s best clubs, it’s not entirely surprising the Leafs started to get run over in the third. Overall it was a great game to watch and the Leafs looked fine through 40 minutes, which was encouraging.
It was Reimer.
Remember when he put the team on his back and almost got them into the playoffs in 2011? Remember when he went toe-to-toe with Rask for seven games? It was like that. There was puck-jamming, pileups in front, and all kinds of point shots. Reimer made 25 saves… in the third period.
- Sam Carrick made his Leafs debut after being called up from the Marlies today, and it’s hard to say how he looked since the fourth line played about four minutes. He looked fine early in the game, however, drawing a penalty and making a couple good offensive zone plays.
- Carlyle relied heavily on Bozak’s line for the second game in as many nights. I really don’t know why, as the fourth was more than capable of eating up a few more minutes throughout, and the team could have used some wind when the Hawks were destroying them late.
See you Tuesday
The Leafs’ next game is in Arizona against the Coyotes on Tuesday. It’ll be a 9:00pm EST puck drop.