Maple Leafs get physical, shut out Panthers 4-0
James Reimer posted another shutout, but was more concerned with giving a shoutout late on Thursday night. The Maple Leafs had just beaten the Florida Panthers 4-0 in their final road game of the regular season, but it was a takedown by defenceman Mark Fraser that had the Leafs’ juices flowing on a steamy April night. During a skirmish in the second period, Fraser threw Alex Petrovic to the ice after the Panthers rookie planted a couple of fists in Nazem Kadri’s face. “Fraser did a good thing,” Reimer said after making 34 saves for his fourth shutout. “It shows we are a team. We stick up for each other. We don’t let guys get bumped around or get cheap shots like that was. “We are all proud of him and glad he did what he did.” Put it this way, it probably was better for team morale than catching sharks together, something the Leafs did during an outing on Tuesday afternoon. Coach Randy Carlyle had implored his players to be more physical in their penultimate tuneup before the Stanley Cup playoffs. While Carlyle was glad that Fraser jumped in to protect Kadri, that the Leafs registered 45 hits after throwing a mere 18 at the Tampa Bay Lightning the night before was as important. “Definitely,” Carlyle said. “We were much more engaged in the game. (What Fraser did) goes deep into our lineup. “That is what our expectations will be in any of those situations, we have to have people who are going to answer the bell.” Fraser received a game misconduct for his troubles, though there were no fighting majors assessed. By the time the Leafs’ charter flight departed south Florida, their playoff picture was a little more clear. The Leafs will start the first round next week on the road. They are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, but would fall to sixth if they lose against Montreal at home on Saturday night and the Ottawa Senators win both of their remaining games. The Leafs’ first-round opponent will be one of the Canadiens, Boston Bruins or Washington Capitals. Phil Kessel scored two goals, Leo Komarov had the winner and Clarke MacArthur ended a 15-game slump.
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