The Blue Jackets came out on fire and McElhinney seemed shaky. Both teams were playing fast and playing hard but it felt like Columbus was just a bit more ready. It really isn’t until 2 minutes in where the Leafs get a good look from Carrick. The game is just going back and forth until an innocent looking play leads to Andersen pushing McElhinney into the net for the first goal. Babcock doesn’t challenge which boggles the mind but alas 1-0. The Leafs have a few good chances but most of the team just seems to be going through the motions because another innocent looking shot from Werenski leads to a juicy rebound for Boone Jenner who converts. An example of the Leafs weak play is Matthews. Matthews was noticeable every shift last night but tonight it wouldn’t be until 2 mins are left that Matthews makes his presence felt.
The period ends with a strong power play by the Leafs but no goal.
I believe the second period happened. I could swear it did but boy was it a snoozer. Less than 2 minutes in, Polak, who I can only imagine had just seen Mighty Ducks 2 last night and wanted to recreate the bash brothers scenes with Carrick, skates all the way across to finish a check leaving Bjorkstad alone. Well Wennberg gets Bjorkstad the puck, he skates in on McElhinney goes top shelf and it’s now 3-0. Less than 2 mins in folks.
Zaitsev takes a dumb interference penalty. No goal. Martin gets called for holding on a weak call, no surprise there, no goal.
Bozak gets called for slashing and this time there is a goal. Nick Foligno redirects Werenski’s shot which is going wide behind McElhinney. At this point Babcock makes some changes. Leivo gets bumped up to Kadri’s line, Matt Martin up to Marner’s line and Nylander and JVR to the 4th.
Nylander and JVR on the 4th line were hemmed into their zone for what felt like an eternity. It is a miracle no goal was scored during that. Martin played well with Marner but it would be Leivo who creates chaos in front of the net alongside Kadri to create a scramble. Kadri finds the loose puck and deposits it to give the Leafs a sign of life.
Marner was hit pretty bad by Jenner and would skate off but he would return. The kid has jam. Just as interest in the game was being revived Leafs take a boneheaded too many men penalty and this game continues to be the worst.
Columbus keeps running down the clock and while the Leafs pressure the Blue Jackets keeps the tempo slow. The real storyline during the early part of the period was Marner. He kept trying to play through a shoulder injury which eventually led to the team shutting him down. He really tried to play through but down 4-1 in the 3rd, there’s no point.
The Leafs are continue to pressure the puck and it isn’t until Leivo gets the puck and from behind the net forces it in front and which bounces off Kadri and goes it. 4-2.
The Leafs came alive and started to try to claw their way back into the game. As tempers flare, Bozak and Jack Johnson get into dust up and both are sent off for roughing. The Leafs pressure harder than they have all game with the Kadri and Leivo line really motivating the rest of the line up. Hyman gets hit with a clear high stick that leads to a nasty cut but no call, again hate to blame the refs but what gives? The Leafs never seem to be benefit from refs. It isn’t until a weak trip by Atkinson that the refs make it up for their missed call. The leafs keep pressing on but again time is not on their side. The Leafs have a great power play and with the goalie pulled they keep hammering the puck on net. As Atkinson makes his way out of the box the Leafs keep advancing until Calvert tries to clear the puck which bounces off the boards and into the empty net.
That would be that for the Leafs night.
In a game, where the Leafs we came out flat, they ended on a high. While the sting of defeat should linger, it doesn’t. Based off of how the Leafs played in the third and the night before, it feels as if the game was really decided by a poor start. The Leafs will have to regroup before their next game and it’s safe to say every Leafs fan will be holding their breath until they get word on Marner’s injury.
Columbus Goal 4:30 J. Anderson (11) assisted by W. Karlsson and S. Jones
Columbus Goal 11:15 B. Jenner (11) assisted by Z. Werenski and B. Dubinsky
Columbus Goal 1:32 O. Bjorkstrand (1) assisted by A. Wennberg and B. Saad
Columbus Goal 9:56 N. Foligno (20) (power play) assisted by Z. Werenski and A. Wennberg
Toronto Goal 17:28 N. Kadri (22) assisted by L. Komarov and J. Leivo
Toronto Goal 6:19 N. Kadri (23) assisted by J. Leivo
Columbus Goal 17:39 M. Calvert (9) assisted by S. Jones
SHOTS ON GOAL
MIKE BABCOCK POST GAME