SPORTS
03/25/2014 12:07 EDT | Updated 05/25/2014 05:59 EDT

Maple Leafs' Bernier returns from five-game absence with groin injury

TORONTO - Jonathan Bernier did almost everything he usually does when he's the Toronto Maple Leafs' starting goaltender. He manned the home net at Air Canada Centre, was first off the ice and did not speak following the morning skate.

It looked good, even though coach Randy Carlyle couldn't confirm anything. But then Bernier led the Leafs onto the ice for pre-game warm-ups and felt well enough to return to the lineup against the St. Louis Blues following a five-game absence with a groin injury.

Toronto is 1-5-0 since Bernier aggravated the groin injury in the first period March 13 in Los Angeles. James Reimer won that game in relief, then lost the next five starts.

Bernier is 25-16-7 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .925 save percentage this season and a major reason the Leafs are in a playoff position.

"He's been great for us all year there's no question," centre Jay McClement said. "He's a calm presence back there. Obviously it'll be a boost for us. No disrespect to Reims, Reims has played great for the most part of the year, but we're going through a tough stretch right now and any jump or any bit of bump in our mood in here will help."

Added winger Joffrey Lupul: "He's pretty much given us a chance to win every game he's played in this year. It'd be big for us."

Defenceman Paul Ranger took part in the morning skate, his first since suffering a neck injury last week, but missed his third straight game.

Ryan Miller starts in goal for the Blues, two days after backup Brian Elliott shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins. Miller is 31-15-3 with a 2.46 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in his career against the Leafs.

MORE:cpSports