Toronto Maple Leafs Spank New York Rangers 6-3 (Videos)
Oct 12, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer (34) makes a save on a shot by New York Rangers center Derick Brassard (16) during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
After being outplayed in their first two games of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs desperately needed to turn things around. Who knew that would happen at the expense of the reigning Eastern Conference champions, the New York Rangers?
Things didn’t get off to a great start for the Leafs, however. The Rangers dominated the early minutes of play and if it wasn’t for the athletic heroism of beleaguered goaltender James Reimer, the final score could’ve very easily been reversed. Reimer was sharp to start the game and remained that way until he left during the third period for precautionary reasons. An errant hip from Rangers forward Dominic Moore made contact with Reimer’s head and neither Reimer nor the team were willing to chance things. As you may already know, Reimer has a history of head injuries.
More from Toronto Maple Leafs
- Maple Leafs Rumours: Half of NHL teams interested in Ilya Mikheyev
- Toronto Maple Leafs: How to address the goaltender position
- Leafs reward Timothy Liljegren with extension after breakout season
- Maple Leafs: Jack Campbell situation becoming increasingly uncertain
- Jason Spezza retires, joins Toronto Maple Leafs front office
The start went to Reimer after Jonathan Bernier floundered in the Leafs’ first two games of the season. In replacing Reimer last night, Bernier allowed one goal on 12 shots. He looked good, but Reimer was clearly the better goalie on the night. Assuming he’s healthy enough to play on Tuesday, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Reimer make his second straight start. He earned it.
Turning to the offence, Toronto saw goals from six different players: Cody Franson (power play), Phil Kessel (power play), Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk (short handed), Tyler Bozak and David Clarkson.
Franson’s goal opened the game and signaled a quick start to his season. The Sicamous, British Columbia native missed the Leafs’ first two games of the season nursing a knee injury suffered in exhibition play, but he wasted little time making his presence felt on the blue line where he’s led the team in points for the last two seasons.
Kessel snapped a rocket – his first goal of the season – off a rebound to beat Henrik Lundqvist near the start of the second period while Bozak sailed one past several bodies to beat Lundqvist at the 14:25 marker of the second period. The King’s night ended less than a minute later when Clarkson recorded his first goal of the season.
Rick Nash, Lee Stempniak and Derick Brassard answered for the Rangers. Cam Talbot made 12 saves in a perfect relief appearance for Lundqvist. This was notably better than the King’s performance, who allowed six goals on 24 shots.
Aside from all the in-game action, there was plenty of drama off the ice, too. Franson’s return to the lineup came at the surprise expense of Jake Gardiner – it was generally assumed that Stuart Percy would hit the press box to make room for Franson – while Nash left the game early to attend the birth of his first child (his wife went into labour earlier in the day). We wish him and his family all the best.
Toronto return home on Tuesday to host the Colorado Avalanche. Both teams have struggled to start the new season so you can expect to see another game where the players are desperate to make things happen. That’s great for the fans.
Follow me on Twitter for regular posts about sports (especially the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays), politics and other news topics: @williamefwilson