Florida Panthers

Maple Leafs ruin James Reimer’s Toronto homecoming, blow away Florida Panthers

Florida’s Jonathan Marchessault ends up in the boards after being run by Toronto defenseman Matt Hunwick during the first period of the Maple Leafs win Thursday night.
Florida’s Jonathan Marchessault ends up in the boards after being run by Toronto defenseman Matt Hunwick during the first period of the Maple Leafs win Thursday night. AP

It wasn't the homecoming James Reimer was hoping for to say the least.

Connor Brown scored a pair of goals and an assist and the Toronto Maple Leafs continued their winning ways at home with a 6-1 win over the Florida Panthers Thursday night.

Frederik Anderson made 26 saves for the Leafs, who improved to 7-2-0 at the Air Canada Center. Toronto is 8-6-3 overall — despite having just one win in eight road games.

Reimer called the Air Canada Center home for six seasons and was making his first start against his former team. He allowed three first period goals on 10 shots and the Panthers never recovered from that early hole.

"At the end of the day it's just one game and we'll be better next time," Reimer said. "I would like to have had a few of those goals back, but that's the way it goes sometimes."

Reimer played 207 regular season games for the Leafs before being traded to San Jose on Feb. 27, and then signing a five-year deal with the Panthers in the off-season. He had been looking forward to facing his former team but had a tough night, allowing the six goals on 30 shots.

"These points are big,” he said. “It's unfortunate to give them up. They're a good offensive team and you want to be able to stop them, but we didn't tonight."

Florida coach Gerard Gallant didn't mince words when describing his team's effort.

"There was nothing good about our game tonight," Gallant said. "[Reimer] had a tough night and I feel bad for the guy, but he'll bounce back.

“A lot of guys didn't play good hockey at all. No compete, no battle lead, we probably played about 20 good minutes the whole game and that's not enough enough.

"Our team didn't show up to play tonight."

Brown opened the scoring at 5:55 of the opening period thanks to a deflection and a video replay call. Brown tipped a shot from Morgan Rielly past Reimer that was originally waved off due to a high stick, but the call was overturned upon review.

The Panthers tied the game at 10:21 when Aaron Ekblad took a behind-the-net pass from Jared McCann and blasted a shot past Andersen from the face-off circle, his fourth goal of the season.

Toronto went ahead for good with two goals just 1:27 apart. Brown got his second of the period and third of the year at 15:36, skating past Ekblad and directing a shot off Reimer's pads to make it 2-1.

Mitch Marner then scored on a breakaway, beating Reimer cleanly, at 17:03 for his seventh of the season, putting Toronto up 3-1 after one period.

Toronto added second period goals from Leo Komarov and James Van Riemsdyk and a late third period goal by Jake Gardiner to complete the rout.

"We've won six of eight games and there was a lot to like tonight," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "We got some good goaltending and we're winning games at home, so it's positive."

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