TORONTO – Jonathan Bernier had the spotlight, but Drew MacIntyre was the goaltender who got Toronto Maple Leafs fans buzzing.
The journeyman managed to infuse some energy into Air Canada Centre during an otherwise listless pre-season game against Philadelphia, making a handful of notable saves. MacIntyre made 13 in his half of Monday night’s game, won by the Flyers 3-2 in a seven-round shootout.
It was a nice performance for MacIntyre, even in a losing effort.
“I’ve been playing for a while, but I haven’t had too many moments in these rinks,” MacIntyre said. “It’s a blessing. I’m thankful for any moment up here.”
MacIntyre, 30, has appeared in a grand total of four regular-season NHL games, most recently Nov. 25, 2011 for the Buffalo Sabres, and he doesn’t have a victory. And the Leafs aren’t planning to rely on him much, if at all, this season.
But against the Flyers MacIntyre showed glimpses of why he isn’t a bad option to have as a third goaltender in the system in case Bernier or James Reimer gets injured.
“That’s kind of been the story of my career,” he said. “I always feel like I’m ready, and I want to be ready.”
MacIntyre made an impressive pad save on a two-on-one shot by Philadelphia’s top prospect, Scott Laughton, and stoned Marcel Noebels to fire up the crowd. Later, he challenged Adam Hall on a semi-breakaway to keep the puck out of the net.
Those stops paled in comparison to one MacIntyre made for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies last season, which was shown on the video board during the second period. MacIntyre reached his glove hand behind his back to snare Rochester Americans forward Zemgus Girgensons’ shot.
MacIntyre could provide some veteran stability on a Marlies team that will be young and inexperienced. When his defence broke down Monday night, he got a preview of some mistakes of youth that are bound to creep up.
Bernier, making his first appearance in a Leafs jersey since being acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings in June, allowed one goal on 16 shots. Ex-Toronto defenceman Luke Schenn scored on him after his shot hit Mark Fraser and deflected in.
Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said he couldn’t fault Bernier for giving up that goal and called his performance “pretty solid.”
“It felt pretty good,” Bernier said. “Obviously guys played very well in front of me. We got into PK a little bit too much, but it was good. I got to know the system a little bit.”
The player the Leafs got from the Flyers for Schenn, James van Riemsdyk, also scored Monday night. Tye McGinn scored the shootout winner.
In the first period, Jamie Devane tried to fight former Leafs enforcer Jay Rosehill, before linesmen kept them apart. David Clarkson, also playing his first game in a Leafs jersey, managed to drop the gloves with bigger Flyers defenceman Niklas Grossmann.
Clarkson likened fighting Grossmann to “trying to move a fridge.” But Carlyle wasn’t surprised to see Toronto’s biggest off-season acquisition fight someone 30 pounds heavier than him.
“He’s done it all his career,” Carlyle said. “That’s why he is what he is. That’s his reputation. That’s not anything more than that’s what David Clarkson is.”
Leafs star Phil Kessel lost his cool a couple of times, once slashing Schenn on the shins twice to earn a penalty. Later, Kessel got into it with Ben Holmstrom and took an extra penalty for slashing.
“I just think that the slashing and the hacking and whacking, I didn’t really see what started it in the two instances,” Carlyle said. “I just think it’s better served to channel your energy in another way.”