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Leafs Postgame: Blue Jackets vs. Blue Foliage

Tonight the Leafs faced the Columbus Blue Jackets in a Monday Night Smackdown event in the NHL. Both teams have had strong starts and are second and first in their respective divisions.

While the Jackets haven’t had much postseason success in recent years (or franchise history, for that matter), they are a strong regular season team and will be a challenge for the Maple Leafs.

After briefly having the most points of any team in the NHL, the Leafs have fallen back to third in the league coming into tonight’s matchup with 28 points, while the Blue Jackets hold a similar 26.

Let’s see how tonight went:

1st period

The Leafs started well enough this game, and had a couple chances hit posts but ultimately did not find the back of the net.

As the period went on, the Leafs looked certainly outplayed, seeing the Jackets rack up numerous chances against. Their breakout struggled mightily throughout the period.

Poor zone exit attempts by Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, and Ron Hainsey here led to a great chance for Pierre-Luc Dubois to find Cam Atkinson in front of the net, and he managed to bury it, which put the Jackets up 1-0.

Then, just before the period end, Atkinson and Dubois would strike again as this time the former feeds the latter, again on poor zone exit efforts, this time by Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev. This one also got a secondary assist from Artemi Panarin.

Atkinson was the NHL’s first star of the week last week, with 5 goals and 8 points in 3 games, and he continued the dominance into tonight’s game.

Columbus left the period with that 2-0 lead, and bested the Leafs in shots-on-goal 14-6.

2nd period

The Leafs definitely started clawing back in this period, momentum-wise. By the halfway point in the period, the Leafs had brought the shots count up to 17-12, in favour of the Blue Jackets.

This crawl forward ended up paying off, as the Leafs would end up scoring with a 4th line goal from Tyler Ennis, who caught Bobrovsky with his head turned around and not covering the post:

The Leafs completed the 2nd period comeback soon after, with a great breakout pass from Kasperi Kapanen to Mitch Marner, who drove the net and taps it back to Tavares who shovels it home:

The 2nd period ended there, with the game tied 2-2 and the Blue Jackets still leading shot-on-goal count at 25-17.

3rd period

The early parts of the third period was mostly highlighted by this impressive work to get back to the bench on one leg by Travis Dermott:

And an incredible performance by Frederik Andersen, including this crazy behind-the-back save:

And the shining star on this period for the Leafs is this game-winning goal from the venerable Zach Hyman:

Hyman added another with the Blue Jackets leaving their net empty, making the final score 4-2 for the Maple Leafs.

Final Thoughts

The two top lines for each team were very good, but the Hyman-Tavares-Marner line came out on top. Andersen did a fantastic job backstopping the Leafs as well, leading to this solid win, despite the rocky start.

My three stars of the game:

  1. Andersen
  2. Hyman
  3. Marner

And the three stars by Game Score, developed by Dom Luszczyszyn (close enough?). *numbers via Corsica

  1. Atkinson (2.7)
  2. Tavares (2.2)
  3. Dubois (2.2)

Of course “game winning goal” doesn’t add anything special to Hyman’s goal via Game Score, like it does to me, and empty net goals don’t count either.

Hope that you enjoyed this Leafs game, and see you next time! Go Leafs Go!

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  • Matmarwill

    It was an interesting game. Down, comeback, great goaltending. The buds may have been outshot, but shot attempts were pretty even. Interesting, and a good sign of team depth, is that the fourth line started the comeback after clutch goaltending by Freddy.

    The d is solid, top 5 in the league. The scoring is also top 5. Both special teams are top ten. Keep this up and this team is actually a contender, even with Auston on the shelf. Now, just gotto keep it up boys!