This game as a true goaltending battle, in which James Reimer battled an onslaught of quality scoring chances, and Jimmy Howard battled crippling boredom.
Truthfully, Howard probably could have cleared several worlds of Super Mario Bros. if he’d stashed a Game Boy in his hockey pants while the game was played out around him. It was that uneventful for him.
Still, the Leafs prevailed. They pulled down their blue and white balaclavas and absolutely robbed the Red Wings of two points, downing Detroit in the shootout and winning by a score of 2-1.
The Red Wings were pretty consistently great tonight, playing well on both sides of the puck. Most impressive was their incredibly aggressive defensive game. Detroit would often send three or even four players at the Leafs puck carrier, making it incredibly difficult for Toronto to generate anything off the rush or set up. The Leafs only generated 19 shots all game, and only a pitiful three shots in the second period.
But despite outplaying the Leafs so thoroughly, it still took nearly 40 minutes for the Red Wings to capitalize. With just a couple minutes left in the second period, Gustav Nyquist would finally put a puck past a sprawling Reimer to take a 1-0 lead.
Amazingly, the Leafs would find a way back into it, with James van Riemsdyk throwing a beautiful (and pretty lucky) cross ice pass to Phil Kessel for a tap-in early in the third period.
The game would remain locked in a tie right through the end of regulation and overtime, where Pavel Datsyuk and Tyler Bozak would trade goals in the first round.
And then, for the win… SANTO.
It’s James Reimer, who really, really, really needed a good game. Jonathan Bernier is the team’s number one goalie (whether you like it or not), and Reimer’s appearances will likely be fewer and further between for the rest of the season. That’s why it’s so important that Reimer plays well when he’s called upon because, let’s face it, he’s playing for a number one job elsewhere next season.
And boy, did he deliver. Reimer would stop 41 of 42 shots on goal throughout regulation and overtime, then stopped two of Detroits three shooters in the shootout.
Bernier has been great lately, but I sincerely doubt he would have been able to match Reimer tonight. That was an insane performance.
Post Game Press Conference
Randy Carlyle on James Reimer’s performance: “He was just okay (laughs). I’ve been waiting a long time for that.”
— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) December 11, 2014
Amazing. Randy, you’re alright sometimes.
Hold On, We’re Going Home
The Leafs will finish off their home-and-home with the Red Wings this coming Saturday in Toronto. Tune in to CBC at 7:00pm.