JVR, Bernier help Leafs beat Flames
CALGARY, Alberta (AP)
Eastern Conference-leading Toronto has won three straight to improve to 10-4-0. It was the Maple Leafs' first victory in Calgary since Dec. 27, 2002.
Joffrey Lupul, Mason Raymond and Paul Ranger — short-handed into an empty net — also scored for Toronto. Coming off a 4-0 victory on Tuesday night in Edmonton, the Maple Leafs will wrap up their three-game trip through Western Canada on Saturday night in Vancouver.
"Right now, the way we're playing, we're winning and I think it's hard for a team to change what we're doing," Bernier said. "We're scoring some big goals, we're getting some huge blocked shots, and some good PK (penalty kill) and a good PP (power play) and that's a huge thing for us."
With Toronto up 1-0 and killing a penalty, van Riemsdyk carried the puck out of his own end, worked a give-and-go with Jay McClement after crossing the Calgary blue line and snapped a 30-foot shot over goalie Karri Ramo's glove with 4 seconds left in the first period.
"A couple games ago, I had a similar chance and I just tried getting over the blue line and taking a wrister," van Riemsdyk said. "This time, I saw we had a 2-on-2, there wasn't much time, so I thought I'd try to kick it wide and Jay made an unbelievable pass underneath the triangle of the defenseman and I just tried to throw it on net as quickly as possible."
Entering the night, the storyline was Phil Kessel, who had seven goals and 10 points in the previous four games to climb into a tie for second in the NHL's scoring race behind Sidney Crosby. However, the Flames were also able to hold Kessel off the scoreboard.
Calgary couldn't muster enough offense against Bernier despite holding a 43-22 edge in shots. Bernier was playing for the first time in three games and simply didn't give the Flames much, despite Calgary having the territorial edge.
"It's just so frustrating right now. I thought we played a pretty good game from the top on down but that was one heck of a performance from Bernier," said Calgary forward Joe Colborne, a former Toronto player. "We were going to the net hard, we were creating secondary rebound chances and it was just one of those nights where things aren't going to go in."
Calgary cut it to one when Jones deflected Kris Russell's point shot with 5:21 left in the third period, but the Flames could not get back to even despite getting a man advantage with 3 minutes left when David Clarkson was sent off for boarding.
"I felt that we had a good game. We are not very pleased with the result but I don't know what we could have done more," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "Offensively, we generated a lot. Our forechecking was good. Our puck decisions in the offensive zone were very good but Bernier basically stole the game away from us."
Notes: Clarkson assisted on Raymond's goal for his first point with the Maple Leafs. Suspended by the NHL for the first 10 games of the season, Clarkson was blanked in his first three games. ... C Mikael Backlund was a healthy scratch for the Flames. ... Toronto D Dion Phaneuf has been held without a point against the Flames in five career games against his former club.