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Reimer (45 saves) helps Maple Leafs top Blackhawks

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer generally likes to tune out the crowd.

But he admitted when the fans at Air Canada Centre started chanting, "Reimer! Reimer! Reimer!" in the dying moments of a 3-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, it got him pumped up.

"I was feeding off it," Reimer said. "Most often you can't even hear the crowd, but for some reason at a time like that I definitely heard it, and facing a couple shots like I did in the third, it definitely gave me a lot more motivation and energy. It definitely pumped me up."

Reimer made 45 saves and the Maple Leafs won their third game in a row. He made 26 saves in the third period when the Blackhawks outshot Toronto 26-7.

"I thought through two periods we played pretty good, but obviously in back-to-back games you run out of steam a little bit in the third, and they definitely stepped up their game a bit," Reimer said. "It was one of those games where we had to grind it out and we were fortunate to get two points."

Toronto, with Jonathan Bernier in goal, defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 on Friday.

The Blackhawks put a lot of pressure on the Maple Leafs in the third period and produced a number of quality scoring chances.

"You just tell yourself to relax and stay calm," Reimer said. "It's one of those things where the tendency is to get hyped up and to work too hard, but the thing is to stay calm, stay in peace, but still keep the competitiveness up to try to fight through traffic."

With the Maple Leafs leading by a goal, Reimer made point-blank saves on Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane with four minutes remaining in the third period. Thirty seconds later, Reimer stopped a Toews slap shot from 15 feet out.

"He played great and made some big saves at the end," Kane said. "He looked confident. We had some chances that we didn't finish off, but give him credit."

Toronto's Daniel Winnik, who had a goal and two assists Friday against the Blue Jackets, set up the first Maple Leafs goal Saturday at 14:10 of the first period. After taking a pass from right wing Phil Kessel, Winnik broke in 2-on-1 with center Nazem Kadri. Winnik made a perfect crossing pass that Kadri tipped past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford for his fourth goal of the season.

With Toronto's Sam Carrick off for hooking, Chicago's Brad Richards scored his first goal with the Blackhawks on a slap shot from 10 feet inside the blue line. Reimer was screened by Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw.

The Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead at 4:18 of the second period with another power-play goal. This time it was Brent Seabrook scoring from the point, and again it was Shaw providing the screen that took away Reimer's vision of the puck.

James van Riemsdyk tied it for Toronto 1:04 later with his 100th NHL goal and 100th point with the Maple Leafs when he intercepted a Johnny Oduya clearing attempt and snapped a quick shot past Crawford.

Peter Holland's first goal of the season gave the Maple Leafs a 3-2 lead at 2:21 of the third period. Left wing Leo Komarov set up behind the Blackhawks net and spied Holland alone in front. After a quick pass, Holland snapped a shot past Crawford.

The Blackhawks missed a chance to tie the game when Richards hit the crossbar. Shaw again was screening Reimer.

A week ago, the Maple Leafs were down in the dumps following a 4-1 home loss to the Boston Bruins that caused their record to fall to 2-4-1. Since then, the Maple Leafs defeated the Buffalo Sabres, Blue Jackets and Blackhawks.

"You look at how many key saves [Reimer] made," Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf said. "He not only made big saves, but at key times in the game. It's about momentum swings, and I thought he swung the momentum in our favor many times. In the third period he was really big on the penalty kill, and overall I thought he was a difference-maker in the game for us."

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