TORONTO—When a lead evaporated in 58 seconds and a goal was taken off the board on a coach’s challenge, it looked like it just wasn’t the Toronto Maple Leafs’ night.
Then Joffrey Lupul scored twice, and James Reimer found his groove, as the Leafs earned their first home victory of the season by beating the Dallas Stars 4-1 last night at Air Canada Centre.
“That’s really been the story is just not getting those favourable bounces or hitting posts or getting goals disallowed,” said Nazem Kadri, who assisted on Lupul’s second goal.
“Tonight was one of those nights where we were able to battle a little bit of adversity.”
Lupul’s two goals helped overcome a soft goal Reimer allowed early and what looked like a snowball effect of bad breaks.
The Leafs (2-7-2) carried the play at times but managed to weather the Dallas onslaught thanks in large part to Reimer.
Starting in place of banged-up Jonathan Bernier, he atoned for giving up a bad goal by making 43 saves to snap the Stars’ winning streak at three.
“I feel like I’ve been playing well this season, not getting a couple bounces,” Reimer noted.
“Tonight I got a couple bounces, a couple posts, and a couple that managed to hit me when I was sprawling.”
With Dallas (9-3-0) on a roll starting its four-game road trip, Toronto kept leading scorers Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin from inflicting too much damage.
Seguin fed Benn for his league-leading 10th goal in the first, but the duo was quiet after that.
“I think we had our chances,” Seguin noted.
“We gave them a few, myself included, didn’t bear down, but we had opportunities of scoring.”
The Leafs, meanwhile, made the most of their chances as Brad Boyes scored his first goal with the time and Morgan Rielly added an exclamation point in the final seconds.
Antti Niemi allowed four goals but Stars’ coach Lindy Ruff blamed his defence for breakdowns.
“We had a couple of missed assignments right in front of our own net and that can change the game,” he noted.
It did—enough that the Leafs didn’t fall victim to the same letdowns that had doomed them at many points this season.
They kept up the pressure and it paid off with goals by Lupul at even strength and then on the power play.
“‘Lupes,’ he’s been working really hard this year, I think, and he’s been doing a lot of good things,” Reimer said.
“I think that’s a case where when you do the right things long enough, eventually you get some results.”
That definitely was the case for Reimer, who earned another start Wednesday against the Winnipeg Jets, coach Mike Babcock said.
Reimer frustrated the Stars, especially early in the third period when he denied Patrick Sharp from in close and forced Valeri Nichushkin wide on a penalty shot.
Elsewhere in the NHL, Vancouver beat Philadelphia 4-1 and Chicago doubled L.A. 4-2.