On what was supposed to be a scheduled day off, Bernier was forced into the game with his team trailing 4-2 and didn't allow a goal as the Maple Leafs bounced back to defeat the Ottawa senators 5-4 in a shootout
For his efforts -- Bernier made 15 saves in 34:04 and two more in the shootout -- he was named the game's first star.
"It's great to get the win," Bernier said. Obviously we didn't play our best hockey game, but we found a way again to make it happen and that is what a good team does."
Bernier said a goalie always has to be ready to enter a game. He said he had never before entered a game in progress and then went on to be named the first star.
The Maple Leafs felt quite good about their goaltending after opening the season with back-to-back road victories. The truth of the matter is the Leafs did not play great in the first two games, but goalies James Reimer and Bernier gave them a chance to win. And they didn't play well in Game 3, but got the victory thanks in a big way to Bernier's heroics.
As expected, Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle went back to Reimer for the home opener. Reimer played the season opener in Montreal, winning 4-3
, and then it was Bernier winning his first game
in a Maple Leafs uniform Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
Reimer actually player okay in the opening period, but received little support from his teammates. He made a number of in-tight saves, but his defencemen struggled, in particular 19-year-old Morgan Rielly, making his NHL debut, and Cody Franson, who missed most of training camp because of a contract dispute. Paul Ranger and Jake Gardiner weren't much better, although Ranger got stronger as the game progressed and nearly ended it in overtime when his slap shot hit the post.
Asked after the game if Bernier's solid play changes the way he'll handle his two goalies, coach Carlyle said: "It makes it easier."
Rielly I: In the second period Rielly bumped into Reimer, who fell to the ice and was unable to get back up to his feet before the Senators deposited the puck into the open net. It was the third straight goal Rielly and Franson were on the ice for. Then in the third period he was involved in a struggle with Ottawa's Jason Spezza, which caused the net to fall on Bernier.
Rielly II: He faced a tough test early in the second period when twice on the same shift he chased down loose pucks in the corner while being pursued by Senators tough guy Chris Neil. Rielly showed no hesitation on both plays even though he knew he was going to be hit hard.
Carlyle, by the way, thought Rielly got stronger as the game went on and used him in key situations including during the four-on-four five-minute overtime period. Rielly's great skating ability separates him from many of the players he plays against and allows him to cover up mistakes.
Raymond produces: Hard to say exactly what it was about his game the Vancouver Canucks didn't care for, but the Leafs are very happy to have him in their lineup. The speedy winger had a goal and two assists against Ottawa and then scored the game-winner in the shootout using the controversial spin-a-rama move on Senators stopper Craig Anderson.
Raymond has used the move before and as long as it works, he'll continue to do so. It is controversial because some argue his forward progress stops during the spin and when that happens, the goal is supposed to be waved off.
"What I like most about the move is I've been successful with it," Raymond said. "It's one that seems to raise some debate and I'm sure there'll be a little bit more about it, but it's something that has been [working] for me and if I can use it, why not?"
High praise for Bolland:
Don Cherry compared David Bolland of the Maple Leafs to Hall of Famer and ex-Maple Leaf Doug Gilmour on Coach's Corner
That brought a smile to Bolland's face. Thus far in three games with the Maple Leafs the former Chicago Blackhawks pivot has two goals and three points and has been excellent at both ends of the ice.
"That is pretty high praise," Bolland said. "A guy like Doug Gilmour was a legend in this league. Growing up as a young kid in Toronto you kind of admire the way certain players play and you try to mould your own game after the way they played. I loved the way he played."
The coach says...: Once again Carlyle wasn't thrilled with the way his team performed, but he'll take the victory.
"Coaches aren't here to cut up wins," Carlyle said. "We did not play the level we are capable of playing. It was more of a hockey game that we played sloppy in parts, but we still found a way to get two points. We'll take that and move on."
Happy Anniversary Randy: It was 37 years ago today that Maple Leafs coach Carlyle made his NHL debut as a player for the same organization. The 57-year-old Sudbury, Ont., native played 45 games with Toronto in 1976-77. He won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman in 1980-81.
Kulemin down: Right winger Nikolai Kulemin was nailed with a slap shot in the right ankle at practice Friday and suffered a broken bone that will keep him on the sideline for two weeks. Kulemin said he could have continued playing, but the risk of doing further damage that would keep him out of the lineup longer was too high. The Maple Leafs have called up left wingers Spencer Abbott and Jamie Devane from the Marlies.
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