James Reimer's spectacular game key to Maple Leafs' victory | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaJames Reimer's spectacular game key to Maple Leafs' victory

Posted: Saturday, November 23, 2013 | 11:23 PM

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James Reimer of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates the shootout win against the Washington Capitals on November 23, 2013 in Toronto. (Abelimages/Getty Images) James Reimer of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates the shootout win against the Washington Capitals on November 23, 2013 in Toronto. (Abelimages/Getty Images)

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The Maple Leafs were out-shot again, but goalie James Reimer was spectacular in keeping his club in the game with 49 saves and leading them to a 2-1 shootout win over Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, writes Mike Brophy.
James Reimer did his best not to allow any negative thoughts to creep into his head.

It was difficult.

After playing his heart out and seemingly on the verge of recording his second shutout of the season, Reimer was beat on a quick shot by a guy called Alex Ovechkin at 15:50 of the third period and suddenly victory was in doubt.

However, Joffrey Lupul's shootout goal proved to be the difference as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Washington Capitals 2-1 despite being out-shot 50-28.

Reimer said afterwards that any goalie who allows a late goal that suddenly puts the game in jeopardy has to work very hard to stay mentally focused.

"You're trying not to get your hopes up from the start," Reimer said. "You try to stay level-headed, but obviously with a few minutes left you are thinking, 'We might win this one 1-0,' but those are thoughts you have to try to keep at bay. 

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"Then when they score there's a whole bunch of negative thoughts creeping up so just kind of tell them to screw off and just focusing on the puck. You can't focus on the bad things or the negative things; all you can do is make the next save and that's what I tried to do until overtime when it becomes a whole new game."

The Maple Leafs were out-shot 11-10 in the opening period; 17-9 in the second and 22-9 in the third, but Reimer was spectacular in keeping his club in the game. He admitted to watching the shot clock as the game progressed.

"Yeah, you are always watching the shot clock; it's something I think every goalie does," Reimer said. "It's not like your whole life and game is focused on it, but you keep an eye on it to see where you're at."

As the Maple Leafs continue to get out-shot by the opposition night after night, goaltending continues to be one of the key ingredients in the team building a 14-8-1 record. The skaters appreciate the efforts of Jonathan Bernier and Reimer.

"I don't even know what you can say, the guy was unbelievable," said rookie defenceman Morgan Rielly. "As a team, when we know he is on his game and playing well and he has his confidence, we play a more comfortable game and with a lot of confidence because he's back there and he's playing great."

Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle put things in perspective when he said of Reimer, "He gave us a chance. That's what you ask of your players when you get into situations like tonight when you needed the saves and he continued to make them. It's a credit to him."

Trying to stop Ovie

The Maple Leafs did a great job for most of the game trying to keep the NHL's most electrifying scorer off the score board, but ultimately he managed to tally his 20th goal of the season. During a pair of second period Washington power plays, the Maple Leafs put a man right on Ovechkin to try to take away his one-timer.

"We made an adjustment on the penalty-killing to give them the one-time shot from the middle to take him away," Carlyle said. "It didn't look very good, but we thought it would be more of an advantage to let our goalie see the one-time shot from the other players other than Ovechkin. You see what he can do with it. He gets one chance on a play where the puck kind of just falls into his lap and he whips it inside the post where I don't think any goalie would have stopped it."

In total Ovechkin played 24:44 and had six shots on goal and eight hits.

Kessel's contribution

After three straight games of less than 16 minutes ice time, right-winger Phil Kessel's minutes were up to 18:23. Of course that included overtime minutes.

Clarkson suddenly hot

After not scoring in his first 10 games as a member of the Maple Leafs, right-winger David Clarkson now has two goals in the past three games. He tipped home a Jake Gardiner shot from the point at 10:08 of the second period and on his next shift drilled a shot off the post. He also said his shot in the shootout grazed the post.

Grabovski contrite

Former Leaf Mikhail Grabovski, who left town with a profanity-laced tirade directed at coach Randy Carlyle after being bought out and later signed with the Capitals, said if he had to do it over again he would keep his thoughts to himself. He did not, however, say he was sorry.

Grabovski earned the scorn of the fans late in the second period when he dropped to the ice. As soon as the whistle sounded, he popped up and skated off the ice to the dressing room. He did appear to be bleeding and it was confirmed that he received 20 stitches. Grabovski played in the third period and overtime, but was booed whenever he touched the puck.

Reimer said he was a little surprised he did not face his former teammate in the shootout.

"We practiced a lot on shootouts when he was here after practice," Reimer said. "Just me and him; we'd go round after round. I don't know why he didn't shoot. Maybe his injury was getting to him. His face looked a little banged up. I thought for sure he'd be jumping over in the first three, but he didn't. It would have been a lot of fun."

Ranger sits

Veteran defenceman Paul Ranger, who is making an NHL comeback after retiring for three years and playing last season with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, was a healthy scratch Saturday. The 29-year-old has a goal and six points with 20 penalty minutes and is plus-4. He has been Toronto's most physical defenceman with Mark Fraser out, but with Fraser back, Ranger was the odd man out.

Maple Leafs ink Brown

Connor Brown has signed a professional contract. The 19-year-old centre, who plays for the Erie Otters and leads the Ontario Hockey League with 19 goals and 46 points in 23 games signed a three-year entry level contract with Toronto Friday. Brown is a five-foot-11 and 170-pounder and a native of Etobicoke. He was a sixth round draft pick in 2012.

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