Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier made his first return to Los Angeles since being traded by the Kings last summer, but he didn’t last longer than one period. It had nothing to do with bad play. On the contrary, he was pulled due to a lower-body injury that may have been sustained making a highlight save on Anze Kopitar.
So it wasn’t the perfect return Bernier was hoping for, but it was a good night for the Leafs, who wrapped up a tough three-game California road trip with their second win. The 3-2 victory gave a little cushion to the Leafs’ No. 3 ranking in the Eastern Conference, but, as has so often been the case this season, if it wasn’t for outstanding play from their goalies, the outcome wouldn’t have been as rosy.
That’s because, if it wasn’t for Toronto’s goalies, Kopitar would have had a huge night on the score sheet.
Coming into Thursday’s game, Kopitar had only three assists and a minus-4 rating in six career games against Toronto. He did get his first goal against the Blue and White in the first period, but could easily have had three more.
The stop from Bernier shown above was the first, but James Reimer stood up Kopitar twice more in relief. All three are fairly similar – right pad extension saves.
First, Reimer’s stop in the second period:
And in the third, he did it again. This one directly led to Mason Raymond’s shorthanded goal that stood as the winner for the Maple Leafs.
The Kings outshot the Leafs 41-29, with Reimer facing 31 of them. So while he’ll be able to sleep easy, Kopitar will be having nightmares about the four-goal game that wasn’t.
But even the Leafs have something to be a little concerned about as they leave California with four of a possible six points. What is Bernier’s condition? Minor tweak, or something worse?