Toronto coach Randy Carlyle knows the Maple Leafs’ 3-0 record is a lot prettier than their play.
"Coaches aren’t here to cut up wins. Let’s not over-analyze," Carlyle said Saturday night after a 5-4 shootout victory over Ottawa in the Maple Leafs’ home opener. "We didn’t play to the level we’re capable of playing. It was more a hockey game, I think, we played in parts and we were sloppy throughout it but we still found a way to get two points."
Toronto will likely move forward with Jonathan Bernier in goal after the former Los Angeles Kings backup was rock-solid in relief of James Reimer.
Bernier, who came on midway through the second period with Toronto down 4-2, stopped Milan Michalek — whose shot hit the crossbar and bounced out — and Jason Spezza in the shootout.
Mason Raymond, on a nifty turnaround backhand, and Tyler Bozak, through Craig Anderson’s legs, scored in the shootout to give Toronto the win.
Carlyle started Reimer, the incumbent, in the season opener in Montreal and then switched to Bernier the next night in Philadelphia.
Reimer got the nod against Ottawa for his 8-1-1 career record against the Senators. But he had a difficult night with little help from his defense.
"It was a tough one," Reimer said. "I felt that I was hanging in there, making some good saves. But a couple of pucks slipped by somehow. Some bad luck maybe. But at the same time as a goaltender, you’re the last line of defense so you’ve got to be there and you’ve got to find a way to keep the puck out of the net."
The Maple Leafs were an adventure in defense with Reimer. But Bernier added instant stability and looked imperious in stopping all 15 shots he faced, plus another two more in the shootout.
"There wasn’t a lot of extra rebounds hanging around," Carlyle said about Bernier. "When he made the save, the puck was either in his glove or he was able to freeze it. He controlled the puck, which allowed us to box out. There wasn’t so many wild scrambles around the net. Hat’s off to him."
Bernier said he just wanted to "make that first save and feel the puck a little bit and get into the game." He also took time to praise Reimer, saying he had fallen victim to some unlucky bounces.
On Friday, Carlyle said his decision on who to start against Ottawa was "made a long time ago."
It’s probably safe to say his decision on Tuesday night’s starter against Colorado was made Saturday night.
"It makes it easier," he said.
Raymond, Nazem Kadri, Joffrey Lupul and James van Riemsdyk scored in regulation for Toronto
Kyle Turris, Cory Conacher, Jared Cowen and Spezza scored for the Senators.
"We come on the road and get three of a possible four points, had the lead at 4-2 halfway through the game so, yeah, we can take that out of the game," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "The way we played over the course of the 60 minutes, much like last night, we can take the good, throw out the bad and get on with our season."
The Senators were playing their second game in two nights, having spoiled the Buffalo Sabres’ home opener with a 1-0 victory Friday night.
Toronto outshot Ottawa 42-36 through overtime in continuing its unlikely unbeaten start. The Leafs are doing it without the suspended David Clarkson and with injuries to Nikolai Kulemin and Mark Fraser.
Both teams had chances to win late in regulation, with the Leafs either unable to beat Anderson or find the target. Toronto had a 42-second power play to finish overtime after Dave Bolland was hauled down by Cowen. But Toronto failed to take advantage.
Trailing 4-3 entering a wide-open third period, Toronto tied it after a speeding Phil Kessel found van Riemsdyk at the side of the crease at 2:52. The big winger tucked it in for his second of the season.
The Leafs went 2-for-6 on the power play, while Ottawa was 0-for-1.
Notes: Toronto won four of the five installments of the Battle of Ontario last season, shutting out the Senators twice and outscoring them 18-8. … The Leafs came into the game with a 44-33-15-3 record in home openers. That record included losses in five previous home openers against Ottawa, although the Toronto Arenas beat the Ottawa Senators 11-4 in the first home game in Toronto franchise history in December 1917.