The Blue Jackets flew to Toronto shortly after falling 3-0 to the Maple Leafs at home on Friday night. They set themselves up for a tough task — play better against the same team on the road only one night later. After a slow start, they did just that. Led by the first line and Kirill Marchenko, the Jackets were able to get revenge on the Maple Leafs and walk away with two points.
Here’s what happened.
It went to 1-0 early when Nylander scored off the rush. He took the lead pass and rocketed a shot past Elvis’ ear.
TOR Goal 1-0: Nylander (Kerfoot, Jarnkrok) 2:39
It was all Leafs halfway through the period. The Jackets got pinned into their own zone for long stretches and failed multiple times to clear the zone even with clear possession.
The Leafs went up 2-0 after the first TV timeout. Marner retrieved the puck in the corner after a turnover and kicked the puck out to Bunting. Bunting’s quick shot found the top corner on Elvis’ blocker side.
TOR Goal 2-0: Bunting (Marner) 10:40
The first power play of the night went to Columbus when Holl went to the box for tripping Peeke. The first unit did well with moving the puck, but failed to generate any dangerous scoring chances.
The Jackets looked like the worst team in the league in the first period. They looked completely overwhelmed and outmatched. Toronto won the 5v5 unblocked shot attempts battle 17-8 and the 5v5 high danger chances battle 6-0.
Toronto got caught on their heels to start the second period and the Jackets were able to capitalize. A scramble for a loose puck in the slot was poked free by Marchenko, who earned back the ‘A’ in his name on his first NHL assist, and onto the stick of Jenner. The Columbus captain slung the puck past Woll.
CBJ Goal 2-1: Jenner (Marchenko) 4:21
JACKETS SCORE pic.twitter.com/ArRTBtWiyt— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 12, 2023
Nylander was initially called for a five minute major after spearing Blankenburg in the face behind the Columbus net. In a series of events that surprised absolutely no one, the officials reviewed the play and determined it to be a two minute roughing penalty instead. If the reverse had happened, you know the call would have been different.
It’s also worth noting that not one single Columbus player went after Nylander after the play. It’s embarrasing how soft this team is.
Sick hit— CBJ Center (@CBJcenter) February 12, 2023
On the ensuring power play, the Maple Leafs got the better of the scoring chances.
The Jackets’ first line once again showed some magic. Jenner went strong to the net with the puck and his shot created a nice rebound. Marchenko found the puck on his stick and did not miss.
CBJ Goal 2-2: Marchenko (Jenner, Gaudreau) 15:01
Goal #14 for Marchy pic.twitter.com/mhtxVJXHzL— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 12, 2023
57 seconds later, Woll had trouble covering up a routine save and the Jackets were able to poke it free. Kuraly was there to clean up the trash.
CBJ Goal 3-2: Kuraly (Johnson, Olivier) 15:58
KURLS GIVES US THE LEAD pic.twitter.com/IqAyfKmadR— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 12, 2023
Kuraly and Bunting went off for roughing in the last minute of the period. Shortly after, Gaudreau went off for a very questionable tripping call.
A much better period for the Blue Jackets caught the Maple Leafs off guard. Elvis, who wasn’t having a bad night despite the two early goals, was able to turn away all 10 Toronto shots in the second period. The first and fourth lines were playing well, but the second and third lines were struggling — the time on ice reflected that appropriately.
The Leafs tied it up on the power play to start the third. Rielly received a tic-tac-toe pass from Marner and Nylander and got it past Elvis, who had little chance to make the save.
TOR PP Goal 3-3: Rielly (Marner, Nylander) 1:20
The Jackets got a chance to retake the lead when Tavares tripped Kuraly. Not much happened on the power play, but they managed to convert shortly after. Sillinger fired the puck towards the net and Johnson got a stick on it for his 11th of the season. It was reviewed for a potential high stick, but the goal stood. To be perfectly honest, it looks like a high stick. I would be pretty upset if that goal were allowed to stand against us.
CBJ Goal 4-3: Johnson (Sillinger, Roslovic) 5:46
KJ scores his 11th GOAL OF THE SEASON pic.twitter.com/lt8CdjQm9i— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 12, 2023
Bunting went to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct shortly after the goal. The first unit looked dangerous this time, but was not able to make it count.
The Leafs pushed back hard and the Jackets had to endure three minutes of six-on-five hockey, but ultimately the Jackets came out on top. Credit is due to the defense and to Merzlikins for their work in the final 40 minutes of the game.
Marchenko is good. I know we know this, but he looked dangerous next to Jenner and Gaudreau. He was a big contributor to the win.
Merzlikins wasn’t stellar, but he also wasn’t bad. The Leafs’ xGF in all situations was 3.24 and Elvis did his job of holding them to an actual goals number lower than that. Hopefully this game gives him some confidence back.
Speaking of guys with low confidence, I know Sillinger had a primary assist, but he struggled in this game. He also only played 11 minutes. I know some people are probably tired of hearing me say it, but I’m not sure what the point of keeping him in Columbus right now is.
Berni and Gudbranson led all Columbus defensemen in CF% and xGF%. How about that?
The Leafs allowed this Blue Jackets team to put up 40 shots on them. That’s, um, not good.
The Blue Jackets fly back home to take on the Devils on Tuesday. The puck drops at 7:30PM ET.