For the workload that the Leafs goaltending duo have received over the last few years, it is games like tonight that truly makes you value Toronto’s goaltending tandem.
James Reimer made 40 saves in a 3-1 Leafs victory over Tampa, and the Leafs did an excellent job of keeping those opportunities toward the perimeter, but it’s remarkable to think about the amount of rubber he faced.
Outside of an amazing save Reimer made on Ondrej Palat which saw Ryan Callahan get the only Tampa goal, Reimer was as good as it gets.
Tonight was James Reimer’s 12th victory in games which he has made 40 or more saves. Now, the stats that were immediately available only go back to the early 80’s, but in that span that is franchise best.
Jonathan Bernier is tied for second all-time in that category (11 and he’s done that in two seasons) along with Felix Potvin.
It’s nothing short of remarkable.
Of all those games, this was probably one of the easier 40 save games Reimer has had.
“You don’t ever want to give up 40 shots because anything can happen,” said Reimer. “But when you give up 40 where stuff is from the outside and you can see the puck you makes saves, it’s nice because you’re feeling it.
The Maple Leafs set the tone early with Nazem Kadri scoring his 17th goal of the season. It was his second game back after serving a four-game suspension.
“We’re playing a little more fundamentally sound. Less turnovers,” he said.
This late in the season, getting the wins are about trying to end on a high note. Morgan Rielly has been among the bright spots for team looking forward, and seeing what he can do against a top team like Tampa has the future looking pretty bright.
“They’re a good team. We knew if we wanted to have a chance tonight that we had to play well,” Rielly said. “We had a good start. I think we’re happy the way all night. It’s just a matter of keeping with it, keep working hard and hopefully keep this thing rolling.”
Quick starts have been an issue for the Leafs all season long. Even in their victories during the 2015 portion of the season, the Leafs took a while to get engaged in the game.
“It’s always the case when you get a team on a back-to-back. It’s a little harder for them to come out,” said Leafs interim coach Peter Horachek of Tampa. “They had a few injuries. They had some D out of the lineup so for us to be ready to play, come out, and get those goals early, I think that was important. As the game goes on it’s harder for them to have that push-back.”
The Leafs look for their first three-game winning streak of 2015 as they take on the Sabres on Wednesday.