TORONTO (Reuters) - It should have been an almost perfect night for Maple Leafs fans on Monday after a 5-2 win over Philadelphia extended Toronto’s unbeaten run to four games but celebrations at the Air Canada Centre were tempered by an injury to netminder James Reimer.
In a lockout-shortened season where injuries may prove critical, the loss of Reimer for an extended period would likely come as a crippling blow to the playoff hopes of Toronto, whose win over the Flyers (5-7-1) was just their second at home this season.
Reimer is arguably the biggest reason behind Toronto’s surprisingly strong start (8-5-0) and a shudder went through the crowd as he was helped off the ice with an apparent groin injury after stretching to make a save early in the second period.
Toronto coach Randy Carlyle tried to defuse any hysteria, saying initial indications were that the injury was not as bad as it looked.
“Reimer has a lower body injury and we don’t think it’s that serious as this point, he shouldn’t miss any extended period of time,” Carlyle told reporters. “He’s going to miss some time but it probably won’t be a long drawn out process.”
Ben Scrivens replaced Reimer in net and did not let the Leafs down, protecting a 3-1 lead and giving up just one goal on 33 shots to lead Toronto to their first win over the Flyers in six meetings at the Air Canada Centre.
As the first choice netminder for the National Hockey League’s only billion dollar franchise, Reimer’s injury will be heavily scrutinized on Tuesday.
“We’ll have to make a decision based on our assessment tomorrow if we recall another goalie,” added Carlyle.
“Scrivy went in and stood tall for us, he was equal to the task and we were able to find ways to put the puck into the back of the net.”
Maple Leafs supporters will be holding their breath until the extent of the injury is confirmed.
Toronto’s campaign collapsed last season when Reimer went down with a concussion and neck injury and he never regained his form. That left a big question mark hanging over Toronto’s netminding coming into the season and will reignite trade talk.
Vancouver Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo, who backstopped Canada to a gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics, has long been linked with a move to Toronto, while other names mentioned include Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller and Los Angeles Kings backup Jonathan Bernier.
Toronto’s home ice woes looked set to continue on Monday when the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds scored just 38 seconds after the opening faceoff.
A Dion Phaneuf slapshot drew Toronto level before the end of the first before Colton Orr and Matt Frattin scored 28 seconds apart in the second to give the Leafs a 3-1 lead.
Some of the buzz left the arena when Reimer went down with the injury, but the Leafs kept up the pressure and Clarke MacArthur added another shortly after to extend the lead to 4-1.
James van Reimsdyk scored against his former team early in the third to pad the cushion to four goals before Philadelphia’s Tye McGinn scored late in the period to make it 5-2.
Editing by Peter Rutherford