TORONTO – Jonathan Bernier’s troubles in net continued on Tuesday as the New York Islanders downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 to split a home-and-home set.
Bernier was beaten by the second shot of the game and struggled the rest of the night — giving up six goals on just 15 shots through the two periods of play before James Reimer took over to start the third.
Brock Nelson, John Tavares, Frans Nielsen, Nikolay Kulemin, Matt Martin and Anders Lee scored for the Islanders (20-12-5) while Thomas Greiss turned aside 30-of-33 shots for the win.
Brad Boyes, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau and Shawn Matthias had goals for the Maple Leafs (13-15-7), who beat New York 3-1 on Sunday at Barclays Center.
Reimer, who was making his first appearance in net since missing seven games with an injury, made six saves in relief.
Nelson put New York ahead 1-0 when he cut to the middle of the slot and beat Bernier with a low wrist shot two minutes into the game.
The Islanders’ lead didn’t last long, as Boyes scored 39 seconds later when he picked up a rebound at the top of the crease and put it past a sprawing Greiss.
The Leafs controlled the pace of play after Boyes’ goal, but New York restored its advantage when Josh Bailey put a slap-pass towards the front of the net that an open Tavares re-directed over Bernier’s blocker at 11:51. It was just the fourth shot Bernier had faced up to that point.
Nick Leddy found a speeding Frans Nielsen to make it 3-1 New York at 17:45. After taking a pass from Leddy at Toronto’s blue line, Nielsen blew by a flat-footed Dion Phaneuf and beat Bernier five-hole with a backhand.
The Leafs outshot the Islanders 12-7 in the opening 20 minutes, but allowed three first-period goals for the first time all season.
Toronto started the second period on the power play and Joffrey Lupul had two great chances to score, but couldn’t convert either — putting one shot wide and another into the pads of Greiss.
Parenteau cut New York’s lead in half with a wrist shot from the top of the face-off circle that beat Greiss low blocker side at 10:57.
Any chance for momentum was halted, however, when Bernier gave the puck away behind his net and Kulemin was gifted an open cage to make it 4-2 only 28 seconds later.
Bernier was given a subtle cheer from the home crowd when he stopped New York’s 13th shot of the game, but he was beaten on the 14th by Martin with less than two minutes to play in the second.
Making matters worse for the struggling netminder, Lee also beat Bernier with his club’s very next shot to make it 6-2 with 39 seconds to play in the period.
Leafs coach Mike Babcock challenged the goal for goalie interference, but couldn’t get it overturned and lost his time out in the process.
Matthias added a late goal for Toronto, beating Greiss glove side from the slot at the 16-minute mark of the third.
Notes: Leafs defenceman Matt Hunwick was back in the lineup after sitting out Sunday wth an illness… Leafs blue liner Jake Gardiner picked up his 100th career point with an assist on Boyes’ goal… Former Leafs prospect Christopher Gibson, who played 45 games last season for the AHL Marlies, backed up Greiss with Jaroslav Halak still out (upper-body)…
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