Recap: Jet soars, but Jackets fall in Toronto
A solid effort and a regulation loss
Good news for all you tank fans, as the Columbus Blue Jackets again lost in regulation. For the rest of you, take solace in a depleted line-up holding their own for stretches against a far superior Toronto Maple Leafs team.
We got a rare bit of good news as both Adam Boqvist and Jack Roslovic returned to action. We also saw the NHL debut of goalie Jet Greaves. He is the sixth different netminder to play for the Jackets this season. Yeesh.
Greaves managed to save the first few shots faced, but that didn't last long. Great passing here from Toronto's third line, and some poor reactions from Billy Sweezey and Marcus Bjork.
Greaves continued to face heavy pressure, with the Leafs dominating possession for the entire period.
The Jackets managed one counterpunch, with a great coast-to-coast play from the Roslovic line. He may have committed a hand pass to start, but some replays showed the puck deflecting off Foudy and back to Roslovic. Either way, he got a real pass off to Foudy, who streaked into the offensive zone with speed. He dished to Kent Johnson coming up the left side, then drew the attention of a couple defenders. This left the slot open for Roslovic, who finished the drill after a perfect pass from Johnson. All three forwards worked in sync to make this one happen.
Shots were 15-5 after first period. Six players had been on ice for no shot attempts for: Robinson, Kuraly, Bemstrom, Luoto, Dunne, McKown.
Greaves was the only reason the game was still close, but the skaters stepped up in the second to make things a bit more even.
Unfortunately, the Jackets gifted Toronto a lead they would not surrender. Adam Boqvist had time to make an exit pass, but Tim Berni was immediately challenged at center ice, and the pass was intercepted. With the defense scrambling to get back in position, the Leafs had time and space to attack. Greaves made a good save on the first shot, but no one was there to help him clean up the rebound.
Better period for Columbus, as the shots were "only" 18-12 in Toronto's favor. You love seeing Greaves get 30+ saves in his debut. You don't like him seeing enough shots to hit that mark in just two periods
Toronto extended their lead with the second goal of the night from Zach Aston-Reese. Jake McCabe timed up a shot from the point just as Aston-Reese was tied up with Josh Dunne in front of the crease. The puck deflected off of them and into the net.
Four minutes later, Eric Robinson used his speed to get the puck and race down the ice, then sniped it to cut the lead to one. That's his 12th of the season, can you believe it? I can't!
Auston Matthews scored an empty netter with a minute left to seal the victory.
Great to see Greaves get this opportunity to make his NHL debut, and do so against his hometown team. He took the loss, but stopped 46 of 49 shots. Can't ask for much more than that. He also was the best penalty killer, keeping Toronto scoreless in three power plays.
Rough night for the Kuraly line, featuring Robinson and Bemstrom. They had a 16.67 5v5 shot attempt percentage through two periods, and although they had a lot of defensive zone time and shifts against the top 6, it wasn't exclusive. They were just hemmed in their zone no matter what. Things picked up in the third with Robinson's goal and some additional productive shifts, but still a rough game overall.
Before the game, it was announced that Yegor Chinakhov had agreed to a one-year extension. He will make $800,000 on a one-way deal and be an RFA after that. Due to his limited service time he was due to be an exclusive-rights restricted free agent this summer, meaning he couldn't negotiate with anyone but the Jackets, so had even less leverage than most players coming off an ELC. Hopefully he can stay healthy next season and earn a big raise in summer 2024.
The short road trip continues on Thursday at New Jersey. The Devils are closing in on home ice for the first round, and could even still plausibly catch Carolina and win the Metro if they win out and get some help.