After a game where everything went right on Tuesday, the Leafs battled and fought their way to a 4-2 loss in Columbus. The Blue Jackets capitalized on the Leafs fatigued legs with two early goals in the opening frame. The first period belonged to Columbus and the Leafs were sluggish. Mike Babcock was not going to see the same product on the ice in the second and obviously his message was heard loud and clear as the Leafs were buzzing to open up the second. The Leafs got on the board courtesy of Jake Gardiner, who scored off a slick pass from William Nylander. Curtis McElhinney kept them in the game making five saves on a penalty kill and the Leafs were clawing their way back into this game, until James Van Riemsdyk took a penalty. Columbus’ league worst power play got to work and capitalized on the man advantage, restoring the two-goal lead. The Leafs forwards played great but just ran into a hot goalie in Korpisalo, who made 39 saves for his fourth win against the Leafs. Only positives should come away from the offensive performance such as Nylander and Marner continuing their great play from Tuesday. Like how sick was that Marner goal? Exact same play he scored on against Carolina. The Leafs defence is what costed the Toronto this game. A lot of lazy plays and mental breakdowns from the Leafs defence core led to goals for Columbus. Gardiner got caught watching the play leaving Seldak open on the first goal. He got caught making a soft pass which Seth Jones took the other way for a goal, and Connor Carrick made a soft pinch which led the odd man rush on Wennberg’s goal. The Columbus cycle had their way with the Leafs defence all night which emphasized the rough night for the defence.
Performance of the Night:
Usually without your normal defence partner, you would think one’s game would take a step back. That was not the case for Seth Jones tonight who earns the performance of the night. Jones’ normal partner Zach Werenski was out tonight, so Jones took it upon himself to step up in his absence. Jones played the most than any player in this game reaching close to 25 and a half minutes. He was a force in the defensive zone, constantly having his way with the battles on the board, and forcing the Leafs attack from the sides instead of down the middle. Jones also scored and recorded an assist on the power play goal.
The first period was slow but after the first but after that the Leafs picked up their play and made this game into an entertaining end. Columbus isn’t the flashiest team and plays most of their game along the boards and in the cycle game. Without star players on both teams, and the slow start from Toronto which really impacted the rest of the game speed and tempo, I rate this game 3/5 on the scale