Bernier had one of the best games of his career while facing 50 shots in the contest and leading Toronto to a 3-2 overtime victory. The Maple Leafs were desperate for a win having lost five straight and been outscored 10-2 in their last two home games. The team needed an outstanding performance from somebody on the roster and Bernier answered the call.
Bernier needed a victory nearly just as bad as his team did as he had lost four-straight and six of his past seven games. After posting a 6-4 record in October, Bernier struggled in November only winning twice in eight games during the month. He couldn’t have started December any better than with a career-high 48-save performance against the Stars. Bernier made multiple highlight-reel saves including robbing Ray Whitney who had an open net to shoot at in the final minute of the second period before Bernier dove across the crease to deny the veteran winger. Bernier had an outstanding glove save on Tyler Seguin late in the third period just moments after Dallas had tied the game at 2-2. He also turned away eight shot attempts by Dallas’ Captain Jamie Benn.
The Maple Leafs are hoping this is a sign of things to come for Bernier as they are begging the hockey gods for some good luck for a change. Toronto has endured an endless revolving door of injuries and they would love nothing more than for one of the team’s goaltenders to steal as many games as he can to buy the team valuable healing time. Joffrey Lupul, Dave Bolland and Tyler Bozak are all expected to miss significant time and the voids left on the roster have taken their toll on the team. The Maple Leafs have tried to survive in the standings despite the injuries to key members of club but without the stellar goaltending they received in October, the team has struggled.
Seeing as this is Bernier’s first start of the month, Toronto is hoping December is a lot more like October for their goaltender than November was. The Maple Leafs’ upcoming schedule will see the team host the past-three Stanley Cup Champions along with a division battle against the Ottawa Senators and a visit to the St. Louis Blues. Schedules don’t get much tougher than a five-game stretch like that and if Toronto stands any shot of surviving it, given their injuries, they will need performances like Bernier had against Dallas.
Bernier proved he can stand on his head against one of the top teams from the Western Conference. He’ll now be given every opportunity to prove he can duplicate that type of performance against the league’s elite teams.