It started out like it might wind up being the St. Patrick's Day massacre.
In the end, it wasn't the result the Toronto Maple Leafs
were looking for, but at least it wasn't a total embarrassment. After falling behind 3-0 before the game was nine minutes old, the Maple Leafs staged a comeback ultimately losing 4-2 to the Capitals
What started out being an awful game for Leafs goalie James Reimer, wound up being a decent showing of persistence.
Reimer was making just his ninth start in the past 31 games, but was coming off an impressive showing Thursday night in Los Angeles where he made 31 saves in the final 40 minutes after relieving starter Jonathan Bernier.
In the game against the Kings, Reimer was booted in the head by Jarret Stoll late in the second period and was shaken up, but remained in the game.
He did not play well in the first period -- he had trouble catching easy shots with his trapper and allowed too many rebounds -- but the fact his team fell behind 3-0 was not entirely his fault. Two of Washington's goals came on the power play and the Maple Leafs were outshot 14-2 in the frame.
The Leafs netminder was particularly strong in the third period and made the save of the game at 15:23 when he snagged the puck out of the air off a Mike Green snap shot on a pass from Alexander Ovechkin as they broke in two-on-one.
Reimer at least gave his team a chance to win and will likely continue to tend the goal with Bernier sidelined with what has been termed as a lower body injury. Toronto plays the Red Wings in Detroit Tuesday and Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said Reimer would likely get the start.
It generally is not a good idea for one of your best penalty-killers to take a minor early in the game when you are facing a team with the best power play in the NHL. That is exactly what the Maple Leafs did when centre Jay McClemment was sent off for hooking at 2:58 which enabled Troy Brouwer of the Caps to score with the man advantage at 3:34.
Three minutes later Jason Chimera gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead when a shot by Joel Ward deflected off his skate and slipped past Reimer. The goal was initially awarded to Ward, but after a review, was changed to Chimera.
With the Maple Leafs again shorthanded, Ward was spotted alone at the side of the net and upon taking a pass from Dustin Penner, snapped his 20th of the season past a bewildered Reimer. Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf was in the penalty box for hooking Ovechkin -- a very controversial call.
"We missed assignments on our coverage," Carlyle said of his team allowing two power play goals. "You can't let Troy Brouwer shoot the puck from 10 feet in front of your goaltender."
Just when it looked like the Maple Leafs were in for a slaughter, Troy Bodie notched his third goal of the season to make it 3-1. It was just Toronto's second shot on goal in the period. Bodie got the puck in the slot and took a nifty little chip shot that went high into the net past Jaroslav Halak. Bodie has been the team's most improved player in the second half of the season.
Six is a crowd
Phaneuf drew the Maple Leafs to within a goal at 8:05 of the second period when his snap shot from the point somehow found its way through the six players that were screening Halak.
Washington's Eric Fehr was not too pleased with the officials after he was tagged with a high-sticking penalty while his team was breaking away two-on-one. He smashed his stick against the penalty box four times in displeasure.
Toronto left-winger James van Riemsdyk must have done something to tick off his teammates. Last week he was crushed by an errant Phaneuf body check and Sunday in Washington he was nailed by a shot from linemate Phil Kessel at 15:30 of the second period and left the ice in considerable pain.
Turnabout is fair play
After being outshot 14-2 in the opening period, the Maple Leafs turned the table on their hosts outshooting the Capitals 20-6 in the second.
Carlyle was critical of a play by Joffrey Lupul late in the game that resulted in the puck leaving the Capitals' zone and Toronto not getting a quality scoring chance. Lupul had the puck behind the net and fired it in front. It went out of the zone.
"It was a Hail Mary play where he should have controlled the puck a little more," Carlyle said.
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