Fluke goal sinks Leafs
TORONTO—Jonathan Bernier thought it was icing—and so did many of his Toronto Maple Leafs’ teammates.
When it wasn’t, the puck banked off the boards and Bernier’s skate and into the net to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 comeback victory last night at Air Canada Centre.
“It was just a bad mistake by my part,” he said. “I looked up [to] see where my options were.
“The puck was probably spinning a lot, and I misjudged it.”
It was a jarring ending to the night for Toronto, which lost starting goalie James Reimer to a head injury just 32 seconds in and had a two-goal lead midway through the second period.
Coach Randy Carlyle said Reimer had a “headache” after winger Josh Leivo accidentally collided with Reimer as the goalie was trying to cover the puck outside the crease.
Bernier stopped the first 28 shots he faced before Aurora, Ont. native Ryan Murphy scored his first career NHL goal 2:54 into the third period on a Hurricanes’ power play.
Murphy’s shot went in off Dave Bolland’s stick.
That was a bad bounce, but it also was the first tangible evidence that the Leafs were in trouble.
“It’s your job to get back out there and take control of the game,” stressed winger Joffrey Lupul.
“We should’ve bounced back a little better, I thought.”
But the Hurricanes kept coming. From the start of the second period on, they outshot the Leafs 28-14 and eventually tied it on Eric Staal’s goal 6:48 into the third.
The way the puck went right from Carolina defenceman Justin Faulk’s stick, off Carl Gunnarsson’s skate, and to Staal had the Leafs wondering if they were due for things to turn against them after a fortuitous 6-1-0 start.
“Some tough bounces, but it’s almost karma for the way we’ve been playing a little bit loose,” admitted defenceman Cody Franson.
There was some element of that to Hainsey’s game-winner, which the Leafs thought was going to go around the boards instead of deflecting back toward the net.
The play happened quickly, but linesman Don Henderson waved off icing because Dvorak was the first player to the imaginary line across the face-off dots in Toronto’s zone.
“It was a great job by Radek going down the ice and getting down there to take away the icing,” said Hurricanes’ coach Kirk Muller.
“Next thing I know, it was in the net.
“I said to [assistant coach John MacLean], ‘What just happened? He said, ‘I think we just scored. I think it’s going to count.’”
It did, with Hainsey calling it “one of those lucky things that happens over time.”
Carlyle estimated Dvorak had Rielly beat by about a foot. The 36-year-old Dvorak wasn’t leaving it to chance.
“With hybrid icing you never know,” Dvorak reasoned. “I saw the puck and I had good speed, so I tried to get in on the forecheck.
“Luckily for us, the puck went in.”
The NHL experimented with hybrid icing during the pre-season, and it was implemented for the regular season after a vote by the Players’ Association.
Replays indicated that Dvorak was first, but Bernier didn’t play the puck because he figured it would be icing.
Had the old rule been in place, Bernier might not have made a different decision. But that will never be clear.
“That’s the new game, so we’ve all got to adjust,” Bernier said.
“But it’s not excuses.”
Carlyle noted a short-side goal is a bad one in the NHL, and this one qualified even though it ricocheted off Bernier’s skate from behind the net.
The only lesson he could impart to his players was to “never give up on the puck.”
Bernier, who finished with 34 saves on 37 shots, figures that “fluke” goals like that will happen from time to time.
His Leafs’ teammates know that games like this will happen, too.
“Obviously throughout an 82-game schedule, you’re going to win some games you shouldn’t and lose some that you probably should’ve won,” Lupul said.
“It has a way of equalling out in the end.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, Montreal beat Columbus 5-3, Vancouver blanked Buffalo 3-0, Ottawa downed New Jersey 5-2, the N.Y. Islanders edged Edmonton 3-2, Tampa Bay upended Minnesota 3-1, and St. Louis shaded Chicago 3-2 (SO).
Detroit doubled Colorado 4-2, Pittsburgh beat Philadelphia 4-1, Dallas nipped San Jose 4-3 (SO), Boston edged Florida 3-2, and L.A. shaded Nashville 2-1 (SO).