It must be difficult to be a goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Either you turn in an ok performance and get treated like you're the second coming of Vesa Toskala, or you turn in an excellent performance and get absolutely shelled the shit out of.
Jonathan Bernier was the victim of the latter.
By the end of the first period, the score was 2-1. It probably should've been 5-1. The Blues ended the first period with a 23-7 shot advantage, putting them on pace for 69 shots on net for the entire game. Of course, that didn't happen - regardless of if it had or not, Bernier is the reason the Leafs stayed in it. As our birthday boy and resident old man Tyler put it earlier in an e-mail, "Jesus. No wonder Leafs fans think Bernier should win the Vezina. Dude sees more rubber than a Parisian prostitute."
After falling behind 1-0 on a goal by Joffery Jupul (nice turn as goaltender, Roman), T.J. Oshie put some of that hand-eye coordination to use, knocking the puck down and finishing the goal:
You can see that Bernier was set to make the save had Oshie not knocked it down. That goal marked Oshie's 55th point of the season, a personal best.
Oshie's goal was all the Blues needed for the floodgates to start to nudge open. A penalty from James van Riemsdyk gave the Blues a powerplay, though you could be forgiven for thinking that the Blues were on the powerplay that entire period. A shot from David Backes squeaked through Bernier, who honest to God should've had that puck, and the Blues were up 2-1 to conclude that period. The goal was Backes' 10th power play goal of the season.
That was not the best period for the Maple Leafs.
At some point the Leafs aren't even playing hockey anymore. Chart from @ExtraSkater pic.twitter.com/tXnrRqxLkP— Ben Alexander (@Ben_KAlexander) March 25, 2014
The second period was more of the same for Toronto, with the Blues dominating the play and David Backes scoring his second goal of the game. No word on if Dion Phaneuf regrets pushing Backes down at the start of the game, because he awoke a beast. Bernier didn't have a hope on this one.
Steen's goal with 2:30 left in the second period consisted of him manhandling big Phaneuf, then embarrassing his old team.
It was about at this point that the fans in the ACC started to show how excited they were for the upcoming baseball season, as they began to chant "Let's Go Blue Jays." And people say that St. Louis is a baseball town.
David Clarkson and Brenden Morrow scrapped with 37 seconds left for some reason. David Clarkson has had an atrocious season, so I guess this is how he felt he could best contribute: by beating up an old man. Well done, David.
That'll totally make up for the fact that the Blues outshot your team 36-14 by the end of the second.
Here's the Fenwick chart by the end of the second period, from Extra Skater:
Things stopped being easy for the Blues when Carl Gunnarsson scored on a slapper past Ryan Miller.
The Blues still controlled puck possession for the third period - turnovers after turnovers were forced by the Blues' fourth line, causing boos to rain down from the ACC crowd. Every single line dominated the Leafs.
Van Reimsdyk gave the Blues a legitimate reason to worry. A brilliant feed from Phil Kessel behind the net set up JVR perfectly, and suddenly the Blues only led by one. Four minutes left in the third period, the Blues are dominating the play... of course they let up off of the gas.
You can't do that, even against the Maple Leafs - Kessel and JVR will make you pay, and they did. But, just with their fans getting that tease of hope... a minute and a half left in the third saw the pulling of Bernier.
David Backes potted an easy empty net goal for his second career hat trick, and that was all she wrote. The Backes Trick goal was his 27th of the year, and it was also the nail in the coffin for the Leafs, as they dropped out of playoff contention for the first time in two months.
It's a long road ahead for the Leafs, and a short road for the Blues. Tonight's win and two points give them 105 and put them back on top for the President's Trophy. Three more wins and this team beats the wins record for the Blues' only President's Trophy team.
Just for shits and giggles, here's the last Fenwick chart for the game (via Extra Skater):
The Blues literally nearly doubled the Leafs' SOG, 49 to 25. According to Lou Korac, the Blues attempted 80 - 14 were blocked, and 17 missed the net.
Kudos to Jonathan Bernier for a hard-fought game. Just a shame that the team in front of him can't get their act together.