TORONTO – The Toronto Maple Leafs paid a price to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
Starting goaltender Jonathan Bernier suffered a lower-body injury Thursday as the Leafs went on to beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime.
Bernier left the game at 8:22 of the third period favouring his left leg after Leafs defenceman Paul Ranger pushed Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron on top of Toronto’s goalie.
Ranger was assessed a minor penalty for interference on the play and Bernier was replaced by James Reimer, who made 10 saves to record his 12th win of the season.
“We were just kind of spinning around, pushing each other in front and he was looking for position,” said Ranger of the battle with Bergeron. “I was pushing him around, next thing you know, I just pushed him and he was on top of (Bernier).
“I want (Bernier) to be on the ice and on our team. We need him. He’s a key part of us. I hope that everything is OK. I don’t know what’s going to happen here.”
Leafs coach Randy Carlyle announced post-game that Bernier would undergo a MRI on Friday. Carlyle declined to say if his starter aggravated a groin injury suffered on Mar. 13 in the Leafs 3-2 win at Los Angeles.
“Some times these things happen in hockey,” said Ranger. “I just talked to (Bernier), he understands, these things happen some times.”
Bernier missed five games with the groin injury as the Leafs went on an 0-5-0 slide while Reimer, who started all five games, posted a 4.22 goals-against average and a .871 save percentage.
“When you see a teammate go off accompanied by the training staff, it’s not good,” said Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf. “You feel for him. He’s done so much for our team and he’s such a big part of our team. It’s a big loss. When we lose him to injury there it was definitely a blow to our team but Reims came in and did a great job for us.”
Bernier isn’t the only health concern with the Maple Leafs as forward Joffrey Lupul did not play Thursday night. Lupul, according to the Leafs, suffered a lower-body injury while playing 18 minutes 32 seconds in the team’s 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.
Lupul was replaced by David Clarkson on the team’s second unit power play during the team’s morning skate Thursday and was the first player off the ice.
Lupul received treatment on Wednesday and then again on Thursday, but was deemed not ready for the game against the Bruins.
Carlyle called Lupul doubtful for Saturday when Toronto plays host to the Winnipeg Jets. Lupul missed seven games with a groin injury suffered in the Leafs’ 6-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 25.
With the injury to Lupul, the Leafs recalled forward Carter Ashton from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, but he was a healthy scratch in the win over the Bruins.