Here are five takeaways from Toronto’s 5-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday at Air Canada Centre:
Toronto’s special teams were very special.
The Maple Leafs jumped out to a 3-0 lead thanks to a pair of power play goals (from P-A Parenteau and Tyler Bozak) and Toronto’s first shorthanded marker of the season (from Leo Komarov). Parenteau added his second power play goal of the night and James van Riemsdyk scored an extra-strength goal in the third period to make the Buds 4-for-5 with the man advantage, and a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill against the Avs. Head coach Mike Babcock and his assistant coaches have focused on improving the special teams, and on a night like tonight, there was no debating they are making headway.
James Reimer’s game off didn’t throw James Reimer’s game off.
Reimer had made seven straight starts – losing only one of them in regulation time – before a returning-from-injury Jonathan Bernier replaced him in net for Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers. So it wasn’t much of a debate at all – Reimer would be back between the pipes for Tuesday’s game against Colorado. And the 27-year-old did not disappoint, turning aside 34 of 35 Avs shots, bumping his record to 6-2-3 and boosting his win streak to four games. As long as the Leafs are winning, Reimer will be Toronto’s starter until further notice.
Shot totals are telling.
The Avalanche fired 13 shots on Reimer in the opening period, 12 in the middle frame and 10 in the third period. That’s still a lot of rubber for Reimer to be dealing with, but the quality of scoring chances wasn’t strong for Colorado and the Leafs controlled the puck for long stretches. This wasn’t Toronto hanging on for dear life – as the decreasing shot totals helped demonstrate, this was a Leafs team getting better as the game went on.
A big night for Tyler Bozak.
With a goal and three points against the Avs, Bozak had more than two points for the first time since March 28th of this year when he had a hat trick and four-point performance against Ottawa. Bozak is a polarizing figure to some Leafs supporters, but the 29-year-old centre is a smart competitor who still can step up and make noteworthy contributions.
The first point as a Leaf for a quietly effective veteran blueliner.
He isn’t going to be pushing blossoming star Morgan Rielly as Toronto’s highest-scoring defenseman, but nine-year NHL veteran Matt Hunwick recorded his first point (a primary assist on van Riemsdyk’s final goal of the night) in Blue and White. The 30-year-old wasn’t signed by the Leafs this summer to produce offence by the bucketload – his career points high of 27 was set in the 2008-09 campaign with Boston – but Hunwick is one of the most respected men in the dressing room. Leafs players will be happiest with their sixth victory of the season, but getting a hard worker like Hunwick on the official list of Leafs point-getters will also make them smile.