TORONTO – Goalie James Reimer won his American Hockey League debut and Jiri Tlusty scored in the shootout to lead the Toronto Marlies over the visiting Manitoba Moose 3-2 in AHL action on Saturday night.
“I was a little nervous, but I felt like I started to get my rhythm in the second period,” said the 20-year-old, who made 22 saves in regulation time and overtime, and then stopped four of five Moose shooters in the shootout.
“I thought he was outstanding tonight,” said Marlies coach Greg Gilbert. “He’s a very calm and composed goaltender and he’s very efficient with his movements. He made himself big and made a lot of big saves for us.”
Darryl Boyce and Phil Oreskovic, with his first goal of the year, scored in regulation for the Marlies in front of 3,743 at Ricoh Coliseum. Tim Stapleton also scored in the shootout for Toronto, which outscored Manitoba 2-0 in the post-overtime showdown.
Raymond Sawada had a pair of power-play markers – his first two goals of the season – to provide the offence for the Moose. Defenceman Nolan Baumgartner chipped in with two assists for Manitoba.
It’s the second win in a row for Toronto as the Marlies improve to 16-13-3, while Western Conference-leading Manitoba falls to 21-8-1 with its second consecutive loss.
“It was a big win for us, a divisional game, and we’re all ready to go to war tomorrow,” said Oreskovic, alluding to the Marlies-Moose rematch at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Manitoba’s Karl Goehring made 22 saves in a losing effort, but the night belonged to Reimer. When Justin Pogge was recalled by the parent Toronto Maple Leafs last week, Reimer was promoted to the Marlies from the ECHL’s Reading Royals, where he had a 5-3-1 record as a rookie pro.
“The plays happen a lot quicker (in the AHL), guys shoot a lot harder, and a lot more traffic in front of the net,” Reimer said. “I had to battle to see pucks more, but the guys played well in front of me, too, clearing the front of the net and getting rid of rebounds.”
Reimer, a Winnipeg native who was drafted 99th overall in 2006 by the Leafs, was especially sharp when Manitoba had a two-man advantage for a minute-and-a-half in the first period and again for 43 seconds in the middle frame. Overall, the former Red Deer (WHL) netminder made a handful of clutch stops in the game, including a sliding glove save midway through the second period during one of Manitoba’s 10 power plays, and a point-blank save on Moose winger Michel Ouellet in the dying seconds of overtime.
“The last (save), maybe that was my favourite,” Reimer said with a smile.
He stopped the first three Moose skaters in the shootout before Sawada scored, but Reimer denied Dirk Southern, Manitoba’s fifth shooter, to seal the victory.
“He was outstanding. His rebound control was excellent and he was phenomenal in the shootout,” said Oreskovic of Reimer.
The Moose also was without its No. 1 goalie as Cory Schneider was called up to Vancouver when Canucks starter Roberto Luongo went down with a strained groin last month.
Manitoba was 2-for-10 on the power play, while Toronto went 1-for-7 with the man advantage.
The Marlies opened the scoring and led 1-0 after the first period before the Moose scored in the middle frame to make it 1-1 through 40 minutes.
Standing at the foot of the crease, Boyce swept in Bates Battaglia’s rebound at 13:04 of the first period to convert Toronto’s only power-play chance in the opening frame.
The Moose battled back with a power-play goal of their own late in the second period, when Sawada deflected Alexandre Bolduc’s point shot past Reimer at 15:02.
Oreskovic gave the Marlies a 2-1 edge at 1:47 of the third when his low slapshot from the point beat a partially screened Goehring, but Sawada’s second goal of the game, on a goalmouth scramble at 10:26 of the third during another power play, knotted the game at 2-2.
“I got my last one in December of last year, too, so I think I was a little bit overdue,” Oreskovic said. “It was real exciting, the boys were all happy, and whatever I can do to help the team.
“If I can get the points, I’ll take them, but it’s more important for us to get the win”.
Notes: Marlies winger Kris Newbury, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, sat out for a ninth consecutive game with injury, while captain Ben Ondrus missed his second consecutive contest… The Moose entered the game as the most efficient penalty-killing team in the AHL, with an 88.0-per cent kill rate. Toronto ranked ninth in both power play proficiency (19.1 perc ent) and penalty killing (83.8 perc ent).