The Columbus Blue Jackets faced the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game that can only be described as a roller coaster for Jackets fans. The Jackets earned a 4-3 overtime win after Gustav Nyquist converts on a penalty shot.
The Union boys got off to a fast start and a 2-0 lead only to see it evaporate as Toronto returned a favor and a tweak to the defensive game plan seemingly backfired. A late 2nd period goal by Toronto was matched by a not-that-late 3rd period goal by Columbus (I am not going to call it a real PP goal) to force the game into free hockey for the third time in a row. Here are the details:
The chatter pre-game was about the CBJ needing their first line wingers to start chipping in on offense. This happened…but the winger who came in hot isn’t the one we expected. Nick Foligno started the game on the first line and immediately showed more chemistry with Cam Atkinson and Pierre-Luc Dubois than Nyquist had been able to generate. Though that wasn’t evident early as that line iced the puck just 15 seconds into the game. Obviously not a harbinger of things to come!
Early in the period, the Jackets made Toronto pay as Riley Nash did some good work to get possession of the puck behind the net, made a quick pass to Foligno, who returned the favor. Nash quickly snaps the puck behind Frederik Andersen to score a special teams goal early! BOOYAH! Off the schneid! Oh? That was a penalty kill? It should count towards the power play.
The Jackets killed the rest of that power play off as Foligno continued to look like a man on a mission. Not long after that PLD took a pass from Foligno after a Cam Atkinson shot and absolutely manchilded his way to another goal. The Toronto defenseman made an interesting decision as PLD came around the corner – it did not work. Columbus leads 2-0!
Defensive play by the team looked ugly all game, but was still generally effective. It is fair to say that Joonas Korpisalo had a lot to do with that as he was strong throughout. Unfortunately, Columbus earned a power play of its own. A bad Nyquist turnover led to a speedy counter by Mitch Marner and Kasperi Kapanen who got Toronto on the board with a shorthanded goal of their own. CBJ 2-1.
Late in the period, a turnover by Emil Bemstrom led to a footrace that Ryan Murray was never going to win – he smartly takes a tripping penalty to end the scoring threat. On that PK, the skaters looked a bit passive but Korpi was sharp and made several fantastic stops.
Near the end of the period, the team continued to play an odd team defense. They were sitting further back in their own zone, closer to Korpi. This also gave Toronto far more room to operate inside the blue line. After a long shift, all of this room allowed Andreas Johnsson to find Auston Matthews for a deflection goal in the last minute.
SOG: Toronto 13 – Columbus 9
The CBJ started the 2nd period back on the power play. The first power play unit played the entire thing. They did nothing.
Shortly after failing, they earned a third power play. They did nothing.
This period was relatively boring. The defensive structure reverted back to something close to what the Jackets had played in previous games and Toronto did not have as much room to maneuver. Korpisalo continued to be sharp.
The Jackets earned a fourth power play. They did nothing.
Well, they did promptly give up a 4 on 2 after the PP ended, which Korpi stopped. Late in the period, Oliver Bjorkstrand picked off a pass by Jake Muzzin in the Toronto zone, took a shot on goal that popped straight up, bounced on the crossbar…and Muzzin ‘trips’ into the net and knocks it off. The puck probably wasn’t going in but that was lame.
With fewer than 20 seconds left in the period, Toronto created late pressure and, after an initial Korpi save, the puck snuck through the crease to an unmarked William Nylander who scores with ease. PLD was juuuust a few strides away from his man. For all of his offensive work lately, his defensive play seems to be suffering.
SOG: Toronto 25 – Columbus 24
Faceoffs don’t matter, but Columbus was getting wrecked on the dot. For the first half of the third period, it did not look like the team had another goal in the breech. And, to make matters worse, the CBJ earned their fifth power play. Torts basically threw in the towel and played Seth Jones and Zach Werenski together. If the PP units aren’t working, may as well stick with a regular 5v5 format.
And then… the clouds parted…birds sang…Jones to Werenski for a slapshot…rebound to Alexander Wennberg, that net front force of nature… Power. Play. Goal. But not really, cuz that wasn’t a power play unit. The goal counted though.
After that goal, the Jackets played almost like they have in the last few games. Toronto ain’t no slouch though and they worked hard to get a winning goal to no avail.
Columbus made it out of the first minute of overtime alive! That’s a reason to celebrate. Shortly after, Korpisalo and Matthews played a game of chicken. Korpi didn’t blink. Matthews didn’t even shoot. And right afterwards, Nyquist has the puck and is streaking towards Andersen. Marner hooks him just as he’s about to shoot the puck.
Penalty shot! In overtime!
Nyquist does this:
That made it a 4-3 lead for Columbus! Since that ended overtime, the Jackets also won 4-3. Stack those ROWs.
- Fans are focusing a lot on the defensive play of Jones and Werenski. Neither made errors that led to Toronto’s goals though. The forwards lost their concentration three times. Toronto scored three times.
- Ryan Murray was active offensively. He did not play tentatively tonight, which is good to see after the injury concern. I am pretty sure I saw him wink at Treffs.
- Aside from his goal, Nyquist seemed to sap the chemistry out of the Wennberg line. Both Bjorkstrand and Wennberg were visible tonight, but less so than in recent games.
- Bemstrom and Alexandre Texier found themselves on 4th line duty. Hopefully that’s just a blip for Texier though.
- Josh Anderson was back, but it seems like the Freight Train needs to build up steam. He was rusty and not much of a factor.
- So far this season, it is as if only one forward line can play well on any given night. The first line stood out tonight, none of the others did.
- Does the ‘power play’ goal get Larsen off the hook?
- Toronto was called for 3 tripping and 2 hooking penalties. This seems odd since they are the faster and more skilled team.