Carlyle sticks with Gustavsson

Maple Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson sticks out his glove to make one of his 21 saves yesterday...

Maple Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson sticks out his glove to make one of his 21 saves yesterday during his team's 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals.

Mike Zeisberger, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:06 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Is it a disdain for James Reimer? Or a coach's affection for Jonas Gustavsson?

Randy Carlyle says it's neither.

"I put the goalie in who I think will give us the best chance for success," the Maple Leafs coach said after his team dropped a 2-0 decision to the host Washington Capitals on Sunday at the Verizon Center.

Obviously, in Carlyle's mind, that is Gustavsson, who has started all five games since the former Anaheim Ducks bench boss took over from the fired Ron Wilson a week ago last Friday.

In that span, Gustavsson has compiled a 1-3-1 mark, which is a bit misleading when you consider he has allowed just 11 goals in those five games.

Of course, the 3-2 defeat in Pittsburgh on Wednesday came after Gustavsson surrendered the winning goal on a weak backhand that somehow squeezed through his pads.

Having said that, he was good on Sunday in Washington, only allowing goals to Brooks Laich and Mathieu Perreault.

"Of course it's really hard to lose because a lot of our guys have been working really hard," Gustavsson said. "There's really not much you can do about it.

"These games are like playoff games. There is not a lot of back-and-forth chances going on."

Gustavsson admitted the team was frustrated at losing such a vital outing against an Eastern Conference opponent that is ahead of them in the standings.

"We knew this was a big game," Gustavsson said. "We've had a lot of big games the past few weeks.

"Performance-wise, I think we matched them. We just could not get that greasy goal that we needed."

Gustavsson admitted being "a bit surprised" at getting the call again less than 24 hours after he had started against the Philadelphia Flyers in Toronto on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre.

You can bet Reimer felt the same way when he received the news that Gustavsson would get the call against the Caps. Reimer has yet to play a minute since Carlyle took over from Wilson.

"It's all good," Reimer said as he walked into the Maple Leafs dressing room, his trademark smile splashed over his face.

With the Leafs having four road games in seven days starting Tuesday in Florida, it will be interesting to see when (or if) Reimer gets the call from Carlyle.

NO SCHEDULE EXCUSE

While both the Capitals and Maple Leafs played on Saturday, Washington's game was at 1 p.m. in Boston.

The Leafs, meanwhile, did not face off until six hours later at the Air Canada Centre versus the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Leafs then flew to Washington where the Sunday game was a 5 p.m. faceoff. Given that the clocks were moved ahead one hour in the wee hours Sunday morning, the Leaf could have made excuses that the sked had been in favour of the Caps.

Instead, there were none.

"That schedule stuff works itself out over the course of the season," defenceman John-Michael Liles said. "There are times where we are in a city for a couple of nights resting and waiting for another team."


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