Indeed, it was Clarkson who thrust the final dagger into the collective hearts of the team he idolized for so long, one-timing a beautiful Dainius Zubrus feed past Reimer at 2:40 of OT to give the Devils a dramatic 3-2 victory.
For Clarkson, who had an estimated 50 family and friends in attendance, the performance couldn’t have come in a better venue.
OK, maybe one. Clarkson did admit he had dreamed of playing at Maple Leaf Gardens one day. Hey, at least he can do his shopping there once the season is over.
“Oh man, it’s such a great to score the winner here,” Clarkson bubbled after the Devils 3-2 victory, a win in which he scored two goals. “I mean, I bled blue and white for so long. I guess I shouldn’t really say I cheer for them now.”
How rabid was the Clarkson family about the Leafs?
“My dad (Eric) still has his seats from when he had season tickets at Maple Leaf Gardens,” Clarkson said.
Now that’s loyalty.
In the Leafs dressing room, it was a bittersweet feeling for Reimer, who had been out with a suspected concussion for more than a month. Making just his second start since recovering, he kept the Leafs in the game until Clarkson beat him in overtime.
“That’s what you play for - to be out there in front of the home fans,” Reimer said. “I was pumped.”
The injury-riddled Leafs were without forward Clarke MacArthur, who is being called day-to-day with an upper body injury. MacArthur now joins teammates Colby Armstrong, Mike Brown, Mike Komisarek and Matthew Lombardi in the infirmary.
Coach Ron Wilson hopes MacArthur will only miss a game or two. In the meantime, he said a strong practice by Armstrong on Thursday could pave the way for a return, possibly Friday in Washington.
At least the Leafs had Mikhail Grabovski back in their lineup. The shifty forward missed Monday’s game in New York to attend the birth of his second child back.
The Leafs were coming off an impressive 4-2 win over the Rangers, much to the glee of their dads who were on hand for the annual father’s trip.
Of course, the way they lollygagged out of the gates against the Devils 24 hours later, you might have thought they had accompanied their pops for a few, ah, pops, in the city that never sleeps. That wasn’t the case, of course. It only looked that way.
Indeed, by the time this one was less than nine minutes old, the visitors had built up a 2-0 lead on power play goals by Ilya Kovalchuk and Clarkson.
Phil Kessel and Matt Frattin replied for the Leafs. It capped off one of Frattin’s best games of the season.
“He’s got to play that way if he wants to stay up here,” Wilson said.
HOW TWEET IT IS FOR BOZAK
In Tyler Bozak’s mind, there were a lot of teammates envious of him on Monday night.
They should be.
Upon reading a tweet from Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton that she would be attending the Maple Leafs-New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden on Monday night, Bozak sent her a message.
Imagine his surprise — and the shock of his fellow Leafs — when she actually tweeted him back, telling him to enjoy New York City.
“That was so cool,” he said on Tuesday night. “She’s pretty good looking.”
That might be the understatement of the year.
Of course, teammate Joffrey Lupul and former Leaf Jeff O’Neill immediately tweeted that Bozak had no chance with Upton.
“Ya, they were chirping, but it didn’t bug me,” Bozak said.
After receiving a direct tweet from a curvaceous supermodel, why would it?