Blue Jackets-Maple Leafs Preview
James Reimer has been outstanding in net for the Toronto Maple Leafs all season regardless of venue.
However, his play at home lately has been only a few steps from perfection.
Although Toronto ranks 29th in the league in allowing 36.2 shots per game, that lack of defense hasn't been too costly thanks to the goaltending tandem of Reimer and Jonathan Bernier.
Reimer is 6-2-0 with a league-best .947 save percentage and a 2.10 goals-against average, while Bernier is 8-6-1 and ranks seventh with a .934 save percentage and among the league's best with a 2.19 GAA.
Since allowing four goals to Ottawa and getting pulled in his second game of the season Oct. 5, Reimer has stopped 156 of 161 shots at home for a .969 save percentage. He's gone 4-0-0 in five starts in that span.
"Obviously I believe in my ability and in my skill," Reimer said. "I try and work hard every day to be the best I can. Stats are stats. I think you could arguably say that (Henrik) Lundqvist was the best goalie in the league, and I don't know where he is in save-percentage stats."
He matched a career best with 49 saves in Saturday's 2-1 shootout victory over visiting Washington.
Toronto (14-8-1) was outshot 50-28, the ninth time in 14 wins its been outshot.
"Honestly it was more of them just throwing pucks at the net from everywhere," said Reimer, who stopped three of four in the shootout, including Alex Ovechkin. "Our team did a great job of keeping the shots to the outside, and I just tried my best to control them. When I left some out there, obviously they were there to back me up."
Saturday's win was the sixth in seven home games for the Maple Leafs, who are 7 for 19 on the power play during that span. They are averaging 3.1 goals on home ice compared to 2.3 on the road.
Leading scorer Phil Kessel has been relatively quiet lately for Toronto, going without a point in six of seven games. He scored his only two goals in that stretch Tuesday in a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders.
Facing the Blue Jackets could help him get back on track. Kessel has three goals and five points in his last four meetings with Columbus, which has allowed 14 goals in its last three games overall.
This is the final stop on a five-game trip for the Blue Jackets (8-12-3), who have split the first four after falling 6-2 to Vancouver on Friday. Matt Calvert and Artem Anisimov scored for Columbus, which was outshot 35-16 in its fifth loss in seven contests.
"We didn't play a terrible game, but we lost the game in a couple minutes there in the second period," defenseman Jack Johnson said.
After a 23-save performance in a 2-1 win over Calgary on Wednesday, Sergei Bobrovsky allowed all six goals on 35 shots against the Canucks. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner has a 3.39 GAA in his past six starts, but has won four straight against Toronto with a 2.00 GAA.
The Blue Jackets scored four third-period goals in a 5-2 win over the visiting Maple Leafs on Oct. 25. Columbus has won the last two meetings in Toronto.