It has been a tough years for Reimer, the holdover from last season who has lost his job to Jonathan Bernier. But on a night when Bernier made his return to Los Angeles, and then got hurt, Reimer rose to the occasion.
Reimer played his best game of the year as the Maple Leafs defeated the Kings 3-2 in the middle of their five-game road trip. More importantly, the Maple Leafs proved they can play with the big boys having defeated Anaheim and Los Angeles in two of their three games on the West Coast.
Goalie in, goalie out
Bernier, the former King, played quite well in the first period despite the fact his team fell behind 2-0. Toronto was trailing 2-1 after the first period, but was out-shooting Los Angeles 15-10.
A very determined Reimer looked much sharper through the second period as his team tied the game, but late in the second he was dinged in the head by Jarret Stoll after diving out of the net for a puck in the slot. He was kicked in the head by Stoll's left skate and was clearly shaken up, yet after being attended to by the trainers and then making his way slowly to his team's bench, he returned to the crease and stayed in the game.
And Reimer stayed sharp. He faced 31 shots and saved them all.
Milestone night let down
It was the Kings' 100th consecutive sellout at Staples Center. That was the good news.
Quick, 28 and in his sixth season with the Kings, had 170 wins in 323 games. Vachon, who some believe should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, had 171 victories in 389 games with the Kings in the early-to-late seventies.
Sutter entered the game with 499 wins in 1,023 games behind the bench of the Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames.
After a so-so first half, the Kings had won eight straight games leaving them one off the franchise record of nine in a row between Jan. 21 and Feb. 6, 2010.
Los Angeles winger Marian Gaborik, playing in his fourth game with the Kings since being acquired from Columbus at the trade deadline, scored his first goal with his new team at 1:57 of the first period against former Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier. The Leafs goaltender made the original save on a shot from Kings defender Drew Doughty, but uncharacteristically allowed a rebound that bounced off Gaborik and slipped into the net.
Twenty-seven seconds after Toronto defenceman Tim Gleason drew an interference penalty, Doughty moved deep into the Maple Leafs zone and spied Anze Kopitar open at the opposite side of the ice. A pinpoint pass allowed Kopitar to snap home one of those drop-to-one-knee shots.
Maple Leafs respond
Toronto was out-shooting Los Angeles, but trailing 2-0 and when the Kings Jake Muzzin took a hooking penalty. That allowed the Maple Leafs to get on the board. Rookie defenceman Morgan Rielly engineered rushed the puck into the Los Angeles zone and even though he fell, he was able to steer the puck to centre Nazem Kadri who relayed it to defenceman Dion Phaneuf cutting to the net. Phaneuf scored his seventh goal of the season.
Gunnar the gunner
With Reimer replacing Bernier for the second period, the Maple Leafs seemed to rally around their replacement stopper. After he made a solid glove save early, Toronto went on the attack and played a very forceful shift in the Kings zone. Defenceman Carl Gunnarsson tied it at 3:46 on a slap shot from the left point that deflected off Kopitar's stick.
Monkey see, monkey do
Bernier made an unbelievable splits save on Kopitar in the first period stretching his right leg to the max to stop the puck. In the second period Reimer made an identical save on Kopitar. It looked like a replay.
Before the third period was two minutes old Toronto defencemen Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner as well as Kings forward Dustin Brown were all hit in the face with the puck on high shots.
The Kings wore their original purple and gold uniforms on a night when TV broadcaster Jimmy Fox was honoured with a Bobblehead Night. Fox played 578 games with the Kings scoring 186 goals and 478 points between 1980 and 1990.
Mike BrophyMike Brophy brings a wealth of hockey writing and broadcasting experience to CBC Sports, having covered junior hockey for 14 years before joining The Hockey News as its senior writer for 17 years starting in 1992. Most recently, the Burlington, Ont., native worked as a writer/commentator at Rogers Sportsnet and as co-host of The Power Play on SiriusXM. Mike has written four books, including My First Goal, featuring 50 players describing their first NHL goals.
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