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article imageCase of the Mondays: Leafs drop third straight to Blue Jackets Special

By Dave Pitman     Mar 3, 2014 in Sports
Toronto - James Reimer made 31 saves in a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets Monday night at the Air Canada Centre. The loss brought the teams streak of 7 consecutive wins at home to an end as the Maple Leafs failed to put together a complete game.
The streak dated back to January 12th when the Maple Leafs defeated Jaromir Jagr and the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in a shootout thriller. Toronto would go on to win their next seven games at home. Now 21-11-1 while playing at the ACC, the Leafs have dropped their first three games back from the Olympic break, two of which came on the road and one at home in Toronto, moving them to 32-23-8 on the season.
Columbus has proven to be a tricky matchup this season. The Blue Jackets have now beaten Toronto in all three meetings in 2013-14 outscoring the Maple Leafs 13-3 in the process. James Reimer tended net the last time the two met, allowing six goals on 21 shots. He wouldn't see much action in the following weeks, but would in fact get the start this time around across from former Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky. The game marked Reimer's first start since January 25th.
Missing from the Maple Leafs lineup for the 48th consecutive game was Dave Bolland. Bolland currently leads all Maple Leafs players in career goals (10) and points (16) versus Columbus. Bolland continues to heal from severed ligaments suffered way back in November. Bolland will not be available in Toronto's upcoming game in New York Wednesday night, and is considered to be day-to-day.
Reimer looked sharp early on as the Columbus offensive forces challenged him immediately. Big saves within the first three minutes of the game seemed to sway momentum over to Toronto as they pushed back, but Bobrovsky was up to the challenge on the opposing end making timely saves on a Leafs Power-play. Toronto entered the game going 0-11 on the Power-play over the last five games, a trend that would continue and reach 0-13 by the end of the game. The frame came to a close dead locked 0-0 with Toronto out-shooting Columbus 12-8, also controlling the physical play, throwing 17 hits.
The second period began unlike the first with Columbus dominating from end to end. Controlling the puck in the Toronto zone, Blue Jackets forward Dalton Prout let a wrist shot go though traffic to beat a screened James Reimer. The goal was Dalton's first of the season and just the 2nd of his career. Shortly thereafter, in what seems to be a concerning trend, James Reimer lost control of his stick with Columbus in the attacking zone. The Blue Jackets would take full advantage of the Maple Leafs net minder's mishap and Artem Anisimov buried his 16th of the season to extend the Columbus lead 2-0. The period would end with the Blue Jackets continuing to push the pace, out-shooting the Maple Leafs 12-5 after two periods.
The third period showcased the ability of James Reimer to keep his team in the game, making a plethora of saves on Columbus scoring chances. Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, Sergei Bobrovsky refused to be out-done, robbing the Maple Leafs efforts to battle back. With 4:15 remaining in regulation, Toronto would finally find the back of the net. On a drop pass from Joffrey Lupul, Mason Raymond let a wrist shot go that would beat Bobrovsky over the blocker to pull within 1. Momentum would sway back into the Maple Leafs corner, but it was too little too late as Bobrovsky stood tall to defeat the Maple Leafs 2-1.
Failing to get his first win since January 21st, James Reimer felt the bittersweet sting of a good performance failing to amount to a win.
"Felt pretty good. Its been a while… I was happy to make that save, but at the end of the day, I wish I had made one more", Reimer told reporters post game, "Besides an injury, Im don't think I've ever had this much time in-between starts."
Although letting in two goals in the 2nd period, there was nothing but praise for James Reimer from his peers following his 31 save performance.
"Reims gave us a chance to win, and we hung him out to dry for about 10 minutes in the 2nd period and he battled like he always does…", Joffrey Lupul said of his goaltenders play, "Their goalie made some big saves and we missed on some opportunities that we usually score on."
Frustrated with the outcome, Cody Franson addressed reporters briefly.
"They had a game plan, they executed…. We had a good first, a mediocre 2nd and thats what bit us."
Toronto will travel to New York to take on the Rangers Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers currently sit three points back of Toronto in the Eastern Conference. Wednesday also marks the NHL's trade deadline, something that Randy Carlyle remembers as a distraction from his own playing days.
"Trade deadlines always factor into a players life… It's not a lot of fun, especially in today's Twitter world." Carlyle said post game, "I don't think they had that when I was playing."
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