Game Review: Game #68, Maple Leafs 3 vs. LA Kings 2

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This night was to be Jonathan Bernier’s chance to put one over on his old team. He has taken over the number one spot in Toronto and posted, before tonight, a top-5 save percentage in the League while facing an inhumane number of shots, a huge part of the Leafs‘ second place Atlantic Division standing.

A shutout is what he dreamt about last night, to be sure. Only it wasn’t about one from James Reimer, who took over the crease tonight to begin the 2nd with the Leafs down 2-1. Reimer posted 30 saves on 30 shots over 40 minutes, with three huge outstretched pad saves in the mix, and closed out his first win in the Leaf net since January 21.

This is a result one that, no matter who one might be cheering for in the goaltending battle this season, all decent Leafs fans should be able to crack a smile about. Reimer’s had two chances to start since the Olympics and the Leafs didn’t really show up for either of them; one was the toughest back to back scenario imaginable, and he got shelled for 6 on 40+ shots. It was symbolic of Reimer’s career — there’s been no shortage of fans and pundits writing him off, only for Reims to battle back and come up big for his team when called upon.

It’s a huge result for the team as well, as the Leafs collected four of a possible six points in a trip through the State of California, whose three hockey teams are a combined 124-56-20. It’s only going to take 12 more points of a possible 28 to close this playoff berth out, and the Leafs have certainly earned the right to talk about loftier goals such as securing home ice advantage in the first round.

It, unfortunately, doesn’t come without some health concerns. Sprawling out to grab a loose puck in the second period, Reimer took a skate ankle to the arm and then his face mask, leaving him down on the ice for a minute or so. Bernier asked the trainer if he had to go back in, but Reimer felt confident enough to continue despite experiencing some headache. There’s disastrous scenarios, and then there’s the Leafs losing both of their overworked goalies in the span of an hour with 14 games left in the season.

As @mlse tweeted, everyone be sure to light a candle for Reimer and Bernier tonight.

1st Period

There was a big contingent of Toronto Maple Leaf fans at this game and an audible atmosphere forming between the two fan bases. This was a great game, to boot. And that’s saying something for a Kings home game. For all their flaws, the Maple Leafs are an adventure so fun each game deserves a souvenir.

The Leafs  went with 7 defence and 11 forwards again, with Ashton still a scratch for Colton Orr. Yeah.

The Leafs looked dangerously close to letting this game go the way of the San Jose debacle early in the first. Two minutes in, Gaborik scored off the rush after Phaneuf was caught sleeping while Gaborik crashed the back post uncontested and banked in the rebound. Five minutes into the game the shots were 8-1, and Jonathan Bernier had prevented a sure goal for Anze Kopitar that would’ve made it 2-0 with a massive toe save.

The 2nd line was the first to do something for the Leafs, the second line being Lupul–Kadri–Clarkson in this game. Clarkson caused some disruption on the forecheck with good foot movement and drew a call. Phaneuf and Franson were looking scrappy again on the first PP, unable to gain the zone cleanly and set up properly. Shift change later, Gardiner and Rielly set up cleanly and  a good chance for Kadri followed. In another good sequence, after a good zone entry by Gardiner and Rielly, Lupul got three whacks at the rebound which were thwarted by Quick.

Interesting to see JVR start to turn the momentum  for Toronto at the 9min mark with a couple of good rushes and shots as he did against Anaheim. The Leafs went on to even the shot count at 8-8 in lightning quick time, showing some good puck movement and aggressive play through the neutral zone.  When the Leafs were generating speed through the neutral zone and applying it on forecheck and cycle,  the inability for the Kings to contain the Leaf attack became obvious, as the speed advantage shone through for the middle portion of this period, when it looked like the Leafs’ dominant game (despite a loss) against the Kings earlier in the season. The Leafs took 10 of 11 shots after starting the period down 8-1 on the shot clock.

Despite all this and a second powerplay, the Leafs went down a man and conceded a goal on the penalty kill to put them behind 2-0. Franson and Ranger wound up on the same side of the ice along the boards and left a wide open Anze Kopitar on the far side to one time one past Bernier, who had no chance.

A fast break from Kessel in the first was his best moment in a bit of an off-game, and it led to a powerplay and the first Leaf goal after Jake Muzzin hooked him up with little other choice. Finally, Dave Farrish sent Phaneuf and Rielly over the boards to start the PP, with Phaneuf on his right side for the 1st time in a long time. Moments later, with Rielly as the puck carrier, the Leafs drained a quick PP goal; After Rielly gained the zone with great speed and purpose,  taking a hit to do so, Phaneuf drifted in from the point, faked a shot and went backhand-and-in on Jonathan Quick. For the record, we have been screaming since the playoffs—in almost every game review—for Phaneuf and Franson to be split up with Gardiner (or now Rielly) on first-pair LD as the primary puck carrier and Phaneuf’s shot opened up on the RD.

The shots were 15-10 for Toronto as they pressed to close out the period in a  good 20 overall for Toronto. That’s not to be unexpected, as they matchup well against LA and used their edge in speed to be first on pucks, win their one-on-one battles and, while trying hard taking chances offensively, not turning the puck over in dangerous areas too often. 

2nd Period

In a bit of a shocker, Reimer took over the net with Bernier sidelined with a lower body injury. He was spotted stretching out his leg a bit, perhaps related to the big outstretched save he made on Kopitar (update: Randy reports the injury was bugging him a little before the game); officially it’s been listed as a lower body injury. We can definitely report the injury took place in the lower half of his anatomy.

The Leafs were having some difficulty to start the period, before Rielly continued to show flashes of taking over the game. He found Bodie for a prime chance in front only for him to shoot high, but the Leafs were coming on relentlessly on this shift as Gardiner and Rielly actively rotated down low, forming  a relentless five-man attack that featured good puck movement on the cycle. The Leafs were able to bring fresh legs into their cycle when Rielly and Gardiner peeled for the bench eventually. The Kings were actually getting boo’d by their fans because of Toronto dominating a shift—a rare sight for this Leafs team.

And it kept coming. On a great shift from the Kadri line down low to cycle with speed and utilize their points, Gunnarsson fired a hard, low shot,  slightly tipped from far out by Kopitar, that beat Jonathan Quick. This comprised the fifth straight game where the defence has gotten in on the scoring, a far cry from the situation earlier in the season. Tie game.

The Leafs  blew the game wide open, trading chances with LA as the Kings conceded the neutral zone, feeding right into Toronto’s hands. A huge forecheck from the Leafs took place in this sequence in the second period, with all three forwards going in with ferocity and applying the good type of body checks that separate the player from the puck.

Reimer came across his crease to make a point blank save, when Phaneuf got caught up ice and the back door was wide open, the first sign he was going to come up big for the Leafs despite jumping in cold. The Kings came on strong in the second half of this period once the game was tied, while the Leafs could not sustain the good puck movement and energy level shown between in the 20-minute interval between the 10-minute mark of the first and 10-minute mark of the 2nd. The Leafs PK was big on four minutes worth of penalties, while Reimer battled admirably.

Leafs flatlined

 

3rd Period

The Kings had the “tied after 2″ record in their favour entering the final 20. LA was 12-3-5 when tied after 2 while the Leafs were 8-7-3. It became obvious in the period that the 1st line was not going to be the one to win this game for the Leafs, as they have many times before. They were underwater for a full minute to start the third before Bozak took a penalty; no fault of Bozak, though, as it started and ended with a Gunnarsson turnover on a horrible play with options available.

Then came a momentous save, sort of a poor-man’s version of Reimer’s outstretched rejection of Patrice Bergeron in Game 5 of the Boston series. Again on Kopitar. Huge. Seconds later, after a great cross-ice feed from JVR on the 2-on-1, Mason Raymond clapped home a one-timer while shorthanded to take a 3-2 lead. Raymond’s 19th of the season was his biggest, and for all his frustrating tendencies the guy continues to contribute key goals for this team.

Somehow, some way, the Leafs held onto this lead. We here at MLHS like to break news, and so we would like to announce that Anze Kopitar is a good centerman. Elite, elite, elite. And huge. The Leafs had no answer for his line, nor have they really had an answer for any of the best lines they’ve gone up against, besides “goaltending,” since Dave Bolland went down. Certainly part of the temptation in overpaying Bolland is knowing the Leafs don’t really know seem able to deal with a big match up challenge without him.

The “Leafs are sitting back here too much trying to protect a lead,” Ray Ferraro said, sounding surprised.

Carlyle made a bold call to have Lupul-Kadri-Kessel to close out the game, along with Gleason and Ranger, with about a minute to go. Darryl Sutter had made the equally bold call to go with a grinding line that late in the game.  Well, Carlyle’s group didn’t fair well and it was Reimer saving the Leafs’ behind in a mad scramble.

Dion Phaneuf made a good strong play with his stick to break up the play late after a faceoff loss in the defensive zone. From there, Kulemin somehow missed an empty net from the top of the circle with no real pressure on him. Thankfully, it’s just a funny thing to look back on now as the final seconds fizzled out and the Leafs won the game.

This was a come-from-behind win from 2-0 down over a contender that was on an eight-game winning streak. Taken in combination with the win over Anaheim, these are important points that should be momentum/confidence builders going down the stretch and into the playoffs. Big victory.

Highlights

Leafs-vs-KingsFenwick chart for 2014-03-13 Maple Leafs 3 at Kings 2

Dashed line indicates non-even strength play.
Dashed line indicates non-even strength play.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Los Angeles Kings Boxscore

LOS ANGELES STATISTICS

GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Jonathan Quick (21-14-2)L29260.89758:43:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Dustin Brown0010:12000002000
Jeff Carter00:0060452012
Kyle Clifford0011:44030002000
Drew Doughty0225:05:00-120002103
Marian Gaborik1119:36-162001000
Dwight King0012:53000001000
Anze Kopitar1020:50-15019100000
Trevor Lewis009:43-100221010
Alec Martinez0015:36022002100
Willie Mitchell0017:16-100001112
Jake Muzzin0018:12152001000
Jordan Nolan009:03000011001
Robyn Regehr0018:29000001201
Mike Richards0016:29020650002
Jarret Stoll0013:23010593000
Tyler Toffoli0014:28030002000
Slava Voynov0025:26:00-120006002
Justin Williams0119:27140001102

TORONTO STATISTICS

GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Jonathan Bernier (25-16-7)1080.819:38
James Reimer (11-8-1)W3131140:00:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Troy Bodie006:46000001000
Tyler Bozak0021:320129170002
David Clarkson0016:41-102001201
Cody Franson0118:06200001200
Jake Gardiner0014:45000000111
Tim Gleason0018:49012007101
Carl Gunnarsson1018:55020001202
Nazem Kadri0220:021107103012
Phil Kessel0021:26130000101
Nikolai Kulemin0015:27-110301000
Joffrey Lupul0022:16050003000
Jay McClement0012:040101392111
Colton Orr002:58000002001
Dion Phaneuf1019:29-110001400
Paul Ranger0013:25122002110
Mason Raymond1012:17230000001
Morgan Rielly0116:48020002100
James van Riemsdyk0122:09060001002
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Los Angeles Kings Boxscore

  • Jay31

    Great recap. They FINALLY tried the Rielly-Phaneuf PP combo. And it worked well. Do we see it again?

    Those charts actually line up pretty well with when the Leafs were skating and when they stopped. That point in the game where there’ll be a scramble in their zone, they chip the puck out, the other team’s D quickly retrieves it, and rinse and repeat until the game is over. But the way they closed this one out was a bit better than usual. Still nerve-wracking to say the least. No one call this team boring, that’s for sure

  • Optimustic

    Huge game last night, sure made it worth staying up to watch it.   Thanks to the boys, I’ll be in a much better mood today.  I wonder if Kopitar is still staring at the left side of the net he didn’t score on just before Raymond scored at the other end.

  • Lonsmos2

    Great recap thanks
    Nice to see Reimer battle and get rewarded but why RC continues to role out Orr and his 2 minutes of TOI when he is only using 11 forwards is crazy
    He is one stubborn man
    Anyway onward and upward to the playoffs

  • Optimustic

    Lonsmos2  Having Orr on the bench sure didn’t stop the Kings from running our goalies.  I have a lot of respect for Orr, but he isn’t being used for any purpose this season.

  • MaxwellHowe

    GLORIOUS!

  • MaxwellHowe

    So we wanted better team defence, secondary scoring, better special team play, the Leafs hold onto a lead  and more Reimer.
    check, check, check, check, and check bitches

  • MaxwellHowe

    and more impactful play from Kadri.  check

  • MaxwellHowe

    Though I am embarrassed because I called for a Leaf blowout win of 7-1.  I will cope

  • Kessel81

    Good Morning everyone but what do you say when you have been up all night? Happy the Leafs won. Big statement taking 4 points in Cali.

  • drummond

    Good game overal. Glad that team has confidence in Reims.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Bruffins MaxwellHowe I’m going to give the Leafs a break this one time.

  • Zep2

    Leafs rode out of the Valley of Death with 4 points
    Not quite an elite team. that will take a bit of maturation and a piece or two, Bolland might be one
    Reilly is a beauty , and the thought of moving GArdiner makes less and less sense

  • Zep2

    Phil cools of a bit , other players step up. KAdri, Gards, Reilly, CLarkson
    JVR just keeps bringing it

  • Yaknowwhat

    Good morning gents….huge win last night….great job by Reimer…is the anti Raymond crowd softening a bit? This guy has scored some key goals for us…

  • Burtonboy

    I’m more concerned about Reimer at this point then I am Bernier. Hopefully he wakes up without a headache. Bernier did start the game with that injury so it shouldn’t be all that serious. Bit frustrated the Leafs risked starting him in the first place.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Burtonboy Thought that Reimer was hit in the arm on that play.   If he was concussed in that game, then he should always play concussed.

  • leafdreamer

    Lonsmos2  Orr is there to instill fear, throw a hit and in case of a brawl or if shit goes crazy.  And believe it or not a lot of fans LOVE him.  He’s arguably the strongest man in the league.  He’s been with the otganization and in the dressing room for a while now.  I’m sure he is well liked by his mates.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    What the FUCK happened to Bernier?

  • MaxwellHowe

    be awful nice if someone could attach a clip of the dominant shift that Rielly commenced in the second, the one that led Kings fans to boo. Just sayin…

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Murph2417 Yaknowwhat  Just because he scored doesnt mean he is without flaws.  Fuck I hate that.  Each member of our team has a downside but as soon as its even mentioned guys go to the extreme because its pointed out.

    Good for Raymond.

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe Burtonboy  He got hit in the head no doubt about that .He even said he had a slight  headache . He did say it went away quickly so fingers crossed

  • leafdreamer

    Yaknowwhat  Raymond is a beauty.  We should keep him.  He’s so fast and he works hard in both ends of the ice and he can shoot the puck.  I bet you he’s got awesome corsi numbers :)

  • MaxwellHowe

    Bruffins Yaknowwhat Exactly.  Mayray is a selfish prick!

  • MaxwellHowe

    Bruffins MaxwellHowe Yaknowwhat I get ya.  But the Kings don’t give up many grade A chances, so i don’t think Raymond could be faulted for taking the shot.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    MaxwellHowe  Actually?  He looked that solid?

  • Cameron19

    MaxwellHowe Bruffins Yaknowwhat  They gave up quite a few to us. We definitely out chanced them significantly through the first period, and to start the 2nd period.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Bruffins TheCanucksnaphook MaxwellHowe  Fuck, watching him (without advanced stats mind you) at his first scrimmage with Dion I knew he was super talented.  Its also why I didnt want him in the WHL this year.

    Cant wait to see it.

  • Cameron19

    Doughty sure is a different player at the start of the season vs. the end. Takes him a while to gear up, but obviously looked very strong last night.

  • Cameron19

    Bruffins TheCanucksnaphook MaxwellHowe  Was this the long cycle shift with Lupul and Kadri?

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Cameron19  Looked awesome at Olympics.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Cameron19 I didn’t think the Leafs had that many good chances, but having said that I thought it was fascinating that the Leafs speed derailed the kings defensive game, and took them off their game altogether

  • MaxwellHowe

    Bruffins TheCanucksnaphook MaxwellHowe Oh I’m sure the outstanding young men that run this site can manage to find that clip for our amusement.  Right?  I hope?

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Bruffins  Talk to our resident on-site Lawyer

  • Cameron19

    TheCanucksnaphook Cameron19  Yea, for sure. Our best D at the Olympics.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Was Dions goal pretty solid?  Looked damn good when I saw it in the highlight pack.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    CanuckUKinToronto  Is this good?

  • Cameron19

    CanuckUKinToronto Cameron19  Yea, I know LA fans have dubbed him the ‘Dough Boy’ on occasion.

  • Burtonboy

    TheCanucksnaphook  Got caught looking the other way on the 1st Kings goal but otherwise he played really well . Good call by Farrish to put him on the right side of that PP with Reilly

  • B_Leaf

    TheCanucksnaphook  

    It was great…and Reimer closed out the game like a champ just like I told ya chump

  • Cameron19

    TheCanucksnaphook CanuckUKinToronto  I’m pretty sure it’s better than any other team in the league. For sure it’s top 5.

  • Cameron19

    Bruffins TheCanucksnaphook  The Franson/Phaneuf thing has run its course.

  • MaxwellHowe

    CanuckUKinToronto So from now on only predict the Leafs will win.  Problem solved.  You’re welcome

  • Cameron19

    CanuckUKinToronto  If memory serves me correctly, they typically do have a harder time with Washington in Washington than they do in Toronto. Hoping for another 3 game win streak. Lets blow through the 80’s a little quicker than 70’s.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Cameron19 I believe the Leafs do have the best record since the new year began

  • Burtonboy

    Cameron19 CanuckUKinToronto  Best thing is they have a 2 day break in the schedule coming back East . That’s West to East  turnaround is the hardest in Hockey especially if you play on one day off

  • TuckerForPunishment

    Cameron19 CanuckUKinToronto  They are 9-6-0 against us in the 2010’s.  6-2-0 in Washington and 3-4-0 against us at the ACC.

  • Guesty_McGuest

    Welp! Toronto controls their own destiny with the final stretch of games. We play TBay 2, Detroit 2, and Montreal and Washington 1. Look to the Boston and St. Louis games as the stiffest competition. 

    Tbay has a pretty weak schedule, but their games against us, Dallas, CBJ, Phi, and Pitt will be tough. 

    Montreal with tough games against Colorado, CBJ, Boston, and Chicago.

    And Detroit may be done. They have Chicago, Pitt x2, Minny x2, CBJ, Boston, and St. Louis, not to mention the inter-division games with us, Tbay, and Montreal. Good night sweet prince. 
    I wonder if the tune of the MSM will change from the early season, “How will the East handle Detroit?” to “How will Deroit handle the East?”

  • Cameron19

    So I know I’m probably way behind, but did you guys already discuss the fact that Burke said “tanking is not an option” for the Flames?  I can guess how that went over with fans, but I think that attitude was essential for us putting our team together more quickly than Edmonton has.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Cameron19  He believes when you start talking about losing intentionally that attitude will permeate a club.  Its similar to what we had here when he talked about “Blue and White disease”.   People can make fun of his hair or how he talks but Burkie knows hockey.

  • Cameron19

    CanuckUKinToronto Cameron19  Possibly, but there’s a lot of pride in that dressing room. Obviously way more than there is Edmonton.