Please come back soon Jonathan Bernier.
That will be what most Toronto Maple Leafs fans will be saying after the Leafs lost a fourth consecutive game with James Reimer in net. Now, Reimer was far from the reason the Leafs lost this game but the game started with a recurring problem for him.
In the three games prior, Reimer has had a habit of having a bad first period, especially the first ten minutes. This game was no different as Max Pacioretty and Rene Bourque scored for the Canadiens to make the score 2-0 for them.
This time however, the Leafs were able to fight back rather quickly as Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak scored for the Leafs to tie the game before the first period was over. Unfortunately, a bad bounce kept the Leafs from entering the first intermission tied 2-2.
The second period was full of chances for both teams but neither team could capitalize on them and the score remained 3-2 at the end of the second period.
Knowing they had to win this game, the Leafs came out for the third period on a mission. They needed tie the game first though, and they accomplished that pretty quickly. Just under three minutes into the third, Nazem Kadri tied the game at three. However, that is when the game turned in the Habs favor.
Tomas Plekanec made it 4-3 at the tail end of a Montreal power play that came off of a very debatable goalie interference call on James van Riemsdyk. P.K. Subban clearly pushed van Riemsdyk into Carey Price. JVR tried all he could to get out of the way, but still caught Price. Call me a vengeful Leaf fan, but it’s a problem league-wide. Too many times, defenseman will push opposing forwards into their own goalie hoping for a call. That definitely looked like the case here.
The Leafs efforts to come back were further hampered by another penalty. With under five minutes left, Morgan Rielly broke his stick and headed to the bench for a replacement. However, on his way he passed Jake Gardiner. Not knowing Rielly stayed on the ice after passing him, he jumped on the ice, causing a too many men on the ice penalty. That was the death knell for the Leafs chances of winning. They had their chances in the closing minutes, but failed to capitalize.
Positives in the game for Toronto were Jake Gardiner and Dave Bolland. While not finding the score sheet, Gardiner was everywhere on the ice and minus the mistake in the third, he had a great game playing both at both ends of the ice rather well. Bolland, playing in his first game since November 2, 2013, didn’t show any ill effects and hopefully can return to top form as soon as possible.
The Leafs are now five points behind the Habs for third in the Atlantic Division and their hold on the first wild card spot is precarious at best. If the Leafs want to make the playoffs, they need to turn it around now. They have their chance to do that as they get back into it tomorrow night in New Jersey where they will face the Devils.