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Struggling Maple Leafs goalie Bernier begins conditioning stint with shutout

NHL.com @NHL

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Jonathan Bernier made his first start for the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies on Friday night as the Maple Leafs' goaltending situation took another turn on the road.

The struggling Bernier started against the Rochester Americans to kick off his conditioning stint, which is expected to last 10 days.

Meanwhile, the Leafs recalled goalie Antoine Bibeau to join them in St. Louis after starter James Reimer aggravated an injury.

Reimer is considered day-to-day, meaning Garret Sparks could make his third NHL start or Bibeau his first Saturday against the Blues.

Bernier was among the worst goaltenders in the NHL with a 0-8-1 record, 3.28 goals-against average and .888 save percentage.

The Leafs sent him to the minors, with his approval, to get his game back on track.

This was Bernier's first AHL game since May 22, 2010, when he was a 21-year-old Los Angeles Kings prospect playing for the Manchester Monarchs.

Bernier came a long way from then, acquired by the Leafs in the summer of 2013 and given every opportunity to be the starter.

The 2011 first-round pick starred in his first season in Toronto until he was hurt in March, an injury that contributed to the Leafs falling out of contention and missing the playoffs.

Bernier found more struggles last year, but that paled in comparison to his performance this season, which got so bad that he lost coach Mike Babcock's trust and was asked to go on this conditioning assignment.

With Bibeau recalled before the game, the Marlies were forced to sign David Ayres, a zamboni driver from Maple Leaf Gardens, to an amateur tryout contract to serve as Bernier's backup.

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