LOS ANGELES – James Reimer believes his groin will feel some soreness Friday morning.
On Thursday, the Maple Leafs goaltender, who hadn't started a game since Dec. 3 because of a groin issue, was tested to a large degree by the Los Angeles Kings in a 2-1 loss.
Reimer stopped 39 of 41 Kings shots on goal in his first start in over a month and gave his team a chance to at least pick up points at Staples Center with a strong performance.
“I didn’t feel as sharp as I would have liked to have felt, but found a way to make saves,” Reimer said. “I didn’t feel any ill effects at all. Was really happy with that. See how we feel wake up in the morning. Chances are probably a little stiff and sore, but that’ll be normal.”
It’s this type of goaltending that has fueled some decent play of late for the rebuilding Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs have given up a total of five goals in their last four games, a stretch where they’ve gone 3-1-0.
“It’s huge when we know our two guys are going to be there for us when there’s a breakdown and we make a mistake,” Toronto forward Peter Holland said. “Kudos to those guys for playing so well. The less chances we can give the other teams to create against the better too.”
Even though the Maple Leafs were outshot and out-possessed by the Kings, the team could take solace in the fact that their goaltending tandem played well over a two-day stretch in Southern California
In a 4-0 win on Wednesday, Bernier, who was sent to the American Hockey League in early December on a conditioning stint, stopped 39 of 39 Anaheim Ducks shots on goal to pick up a shutout.
On Thursday it was Reimer who provided a solid netminding presence.
In the first period, Reimer faced 16 Kings shots on goal and stopped all 16.
In the third period it took a screen by Michael Mersch on a Jake Muzzin shot to finally beat Reimer at the 2:53 mark. The goal was challenged by Toronto coach Mike Babcock, but ultimately counted after a review.
Jeff Carter put the score at 2-0 for Los Angeles with a goal at the 8:05 mark of the third from the area directly in front of Reimer. He didn't have much of a chance on either score.
“They are good team. They are an honest team, and make you work for every inch on the ice,” Reimer said. “They showed why they have been so successful the last couple of years with the way they played.”
If goaltending was an issue with the Maple Leafs and led to early-season struggles, netminding is now a reason why Toronto has started to turn their year around.
Bernier has a 2.92 goal-against average and .904 save percentage, but has won six of his last eight decisions, all since coming back from the AHL. He’s stopped 117 of his last 120 shots faced. Reimer is 7-5-4 with a 1.97 goal-against average and .937 save percentage. If both are healthy and playing well Toronto can continue their pace that has them at 16-16-7 following a 1-7-2 start to the year.
“They’re back there to back us up, so that’s what (good) teams have. They have good goaltending,” Kadri said. “We’d like to limit the shots on net, but we’re playing well.”
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