Columbus faced Toronto tonight with a shorthanded roster. Scott Hartnell, Seth Jones, and Alexander Wennberg were healthy scratches. Sergei Bobrovsky sat while Joonas Korpisalo played in goal. Zach Werenski, Lukas Sedlak, and Ryan Murray remained out with injury.
So what happened? Well it started exactly as you’d expect. Toronto outshot Columbus in the first period by quite a lot. After 20 Toronto led:
29-11 in all shot attempts (corgi)
20-9 in even strength shot attempts
6-5 in even strength shots on goal
13-3 in even strength scoring chances
William Karlsson served a double minor for high sticking and Nick Foligno had a penalty later in the period, so those 6 minutes on the kill took away any chance for offensive momentum. Side note: the PK was FANTASTIC for those six minutes. Korpi made some big saves, but mostly the puck was kept away from the goal area.
The second period started slowly and it felt like Columbus would sleepwalk for the whole game. James Van Riemsdyk scored twice, 4 minutes apart. The first was through traffic, while the second was a 2 on 1 breakaway set up by cherrypicking a long outlet pass.
The Jackets did not give up, however.
After a lackluster power play, Boone Jenner carried the puck down the left side and passed to a waiting Matt Calvert. Calvert turned and fired at the goal without hesitation. That was his 10th goal of the season. I’ve been wanting Calvert to be scratched for Sonny Milano because I feel like Calvert provides very little in the way of shot production OR shot prevention. Nice that he wants to prove me wrong. He was on ice for all 3 Jackets goals tonight.
The next goal was set up by a defensive zone win by Lars Karlsson. Josh Anderson recovered the puck and took it down the ice himself. A wrister flew past Curtis McElhinney to tie it up.
With less than 2 minutes remaining in the second, Sam Gagner went to the box on an interference penalty. The PK shined once again, getting a turnover in the defensive zone. The puck was chipped to Matt Calvert, who started a 3 man breakaway. As Jack Johnson charged the net, Calvert centered the puck to Cam Atkinson, who got his 35th goal of the year, and the game winner.
Oops, spoiler alert.
There were no scores in the third period, as both teams continued to battle.
Columbus ended a 6 game losing streak, by far the longest of the season. Toronto losing in regulation means that they finish in the second wild card position, and must face President’s Trophy winner Washington in the first round. OUCH.
The Blue Jackets are in the playoffs now! The schedule will be released tonight. Stay tuned to The Cannon all week for an extensive playoff preview. The “real season” (as Torts would say) starts now!