BUFFALO, N.Y. - Loud chants of "Go Leafs, Go" on the road betrayed the calendar.
It was a pre-season camp on the first day of fall, but the Toronto Maple Leafs fans who made the trip to First Niagara Center helped create an atmosphere approaching regular-season levels. Eventually, the intensity on the ice matched it in the form of a handful of fights and plenty of chippiness.
Pushing and shoving escalated, but goaltender James Reimer was consistent. One of several players with something to prove, Reimer made 38 saves and 15 more in the shootout as the Leafs beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Saturday night.
Reimer, who's battling Jonathan Bernier to be Toronto's starting goaltender, was brilliant in the first period behind a team that came out flat. He made 17 saves and kept the Leafs in the game for a while.
Even after he showed cracks, like on Sabres defenceman Mark Pysyk's goal in the second, Reimer was good enough to keep his team in it. Eventually, Jay McClement scored to tie it in the third and then had the shootout winner.
Reimer wasn't the only player trying to show something, and veteran left-winger Mason Raymond continued to help his cause against the Sabres. In camp on a professional tryout agreement, Raymond didn't show up on the score sheet Saturday night but had a strong game for the Leafs.
"I am comfortable with Mason. I know what he's like as a person and as a player," Nonis said before the game. "It's how (coach Randy Carlyle) sees him, how he fits into the lineup."
That lineup is still coming together, with players like Joe Colborne and Troy Bodie fighting for spots. Colborne didn't make much of an impact Saturday night, but Bodie laid out to block a shot after Reimer's mask came off and later fought Buffalo agitator Patrick Kaleta, who was trying to mix it up with Dion Phaneuf.