TORONTO — Interim coach Peter Horachek scratched David Clarkson, started James Reimer and pushed all the right buttons as the Toronto Maple Leafs snapped their worst skid of the season.
Richard Panik scored in Clarkson’s spot on the power play and Reimer shined as the Leafs blew out the Edmonton Oilers 5-1 Saturday night at Air Canada Centre to end an 11-game winless streak. It was Toronto’s first victory since Jan. 9 and just the second since Horachek took over for Randy Carlyle.
With his team reeling and playing the second half of back-to-back games, Horachek had decisions to make. After pledging to send a message to players, he did just that by scratching a healthy but unproductive Clarkson.
That was Horachek’s call, but an illness to expected starting goaltender Jonathan Bernier was out of his control. Antoine Bibeau got the call-up from the minors, but Reimer started on back-to-back nights for just the second time this season and rewarded his coach for that confidence.
Luke Gadzic’s goal with 2.3 seconds left ended Reimer’s shutout bid. Reimer stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced for his first win since Dec. 14.
Oilers goaltender Viktor Fasth, whom coach Todd Nelson said earned this start, wasn’t so fortunate in giving up five goals on 28 shots. Fasth was leaky on the goals Panik, Phil Kessel and Mike Santorelli scored and almost helpless on the ones Morgan Rielly and Peter Holland put past him.