Leafs' Reimer in Carolina's mind

James Reimer was not busy, but he was sharp enough to record his first career NHL shutout in only his eighth start on Thursday evening. The 22-year-old Maple Leaf stopped 27 shots to blank Carolina at Air Canada Centre.

Rookie keeps team's slim playoff hopes alive with 27 saves against Hurricanes

Air Canada Centre, Toronto

 FINAL 1 2 3 T
 Carolina 0 0 0 0
 Toronto 0 2 1 3

Top Performers

James Reimer (Tor) — 1st NHL shutout, 27 saves

Tim Brent (Tor) — Won 8 of 11 faceoffs, 4 blocked shots

Colby Armstrong (Tor) — 1 assist

Consistent goaltending and penalty killing have been two of several areas the Toronto Maple Leafs have struggled in this season.

But against the Carolina Hurricanes at Air Canada Centre on Thursday evening, rookie netminder James Reimer and centre Tim Brent shored up those areas to help the Maple Leafs to a 3-0 win.

The 22-year-old Reimer made 27 saves to record his first career NHL shutout in only his eighth start and the first for the Maple Leafs since Jean-Sebastien Giguere blanked the Ottawa Senators last Feb. 6.

Brent was brilliant on the penalty kill. He was especially evident during a 96-second 5-on-3 Hurricanes advantage midway through the second period, when Brent blocked three shots and the 19,220 fans stood in appreciation of his effort.

"It's just what you have to do in order to kill those off," said Brent, who also almost scored in the third period, but Carolina's Cam Ward made a wonderful diving stop on the Maple Leafs third-line centre.

Toronto had surrendered five power-play goals in the previous three games. What made Brent's performance timely was the fact that the Maple Leafs in the penalty box at the time were regular penalty killers Colby Armstrong and Kris Versteeg.

A few shifts after Brent’s handy work on the 5-on-3 penalty kill, Darryl Boyce scored to make the game 2-0.

Reimer wasn’t overworked, but he was steady and didn’t leave many second chances to the Hurricanes. He also made a big stop on a Chad LaRose breakaway late in the second period.

"He did a good job, but I thought we did a great job in front of him," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "It was probably the easiest night we had for a goaltender this season."

Reimer, a Winnipeg native, has been strong since he was promoted to the Maple Leafs. As a result, it is expected that Jonas Gustavsson will be sent to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League for a conditioning stint.

"There is no better feeling when the buzzer goes and you haven't allowed a goal in," Reimer said. "It was a weird game. We played well and kept their chances to a minimum. They didn’t have their best periods in the first two periods and I expected them to come hard in the third period."

Both Reimer and Ward played junior for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League.

The Maple Leafs have won back-to-back games since the NHL all-star break to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The victory enabled 12th-place Toronto to move within 10 points of the eighth-place Atlanta Thrashers.

After a goal-less opening 20 minutes, Clarke MacArthur and Boyce scored in the second period. Toronto’s lead was extended to three goals in the third period when Versteeg scored his 14th of the season.

Rosehill gets back at Gleason

The Hurricanes-Maple Leafs matchup was a chance for Toronto to exact a measure of revenge against Carolina defenceman Tim Gleason, who knocked down Maple Leafs forward Nikolai Kulemin with a punch to the face in the last meeting between these teams in Raleigh, N.C. on Jan. 24.

Toronto tough guy Jay Rosehill dropped the gloves and fought Gleason midway in the first period.

Farmhand goes back to Kitchener

The Maple Leafs have loaned 19-year-old Toronto Marlies forward Jerry D’Amigo to the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. In 41 games with the Marlies, he scored five goals and 14 points and also played for the United States at the world junior hockey championship.