After two impressive wins against Metropolitan Division opponents, the Blue Jackets were knocking on the door of the wild card once again - and not so far off of a top three spot in the Metro, either.
There was just one thing standing in their way: The equally red hot Maple Leafs, who had a four game win streak of their own running.
With Joonas Korpisalo in net for Columbus, Toronto would give Frederick Andersen the nod, and the Blue Jackets would make him work early and often, continuing their game plan of attacking the net whenever an opportunity presented itself.
It’s a good plan. 99 times out of 100, it pays off.
Frederick Andersen was #100.
Despite outshooting the Leafs by a significant margin for nearly the entire game, Toronto would find a pair of early goals on Korpisalo, and even after Nick Foligno and Alexander Wennberg combined on a pair of gorgeous scoring plays to tie things back up, the Leafs would keep finding the weaknesses in the Columbus defense and Korpisalo’s play, restoring the two goal lead on goals from Nazem Kadri and Mitch Marner before Jack Johnson was able to pull Columbus back within a goal before the second period came to an end.
Unfortunately Kadri would complete his hat trick midway through the third period, and Patrick Marleau would add insult to injury in the final minutes of regulation, while the Jackets failed to find a way to solve Andersen despite putting a stunning 57 shots on net.
There’s no fun way to write this recap: It stinks.
It stinks because every metric except the scoreboard says the Jackets played well tonight, and in many respects were the better team.
It stinks because they probably deserved at least a point out of this game, but sometimes that’s what happens.
It stinks because sometimes, shit happens, and what else can you say?
If the Jackets can keep playing like this, you have to believe that they’ll get themselves back on track.
But it doesn’t make it any more fun to watch them struggle to make that breakthrough.