Leafs Get Back In The Win Column With 4-2 Victory Over Columbus

Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Getty Images
Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Getty Images

The Leafs were coming into this one off of a disappointing 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings Sunday night. With just six regular season games remaining, the Leafs’ primary focus is to iron out any wrinkles and get everyone healthy down the stretch. Before this one, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe mentioned he’s wanted to see Marner and Nylander together for a while now. As a result, Keefe put a trio of Nylander, Tavares, and Marner together for tonight’s tilt. Zach Aston-Reese opened the scoring in this one as he took a pass from Justin Holl, and he made no mistake, potting his ninth of the year at 5:10. At 10:57, Sean Kuraly was called for holding Auston Matthews, giving the Leafs their first power play of the night. The Leafs top power play unit had several dangerous chances but could not add to their 1-0 lead. Halfway through the opening frame, the Blue Jackets only managed to generate a single shot on goal. The Blue Jackets managed to tie the game 1-1 with just their third shot of the game at 12:22. Joseph Woll tried to push across to make a save, but he hit a rut in the ice, and as a result, he lost his footing leaving a wide-open net for Jack Roslovic. Shortly after the tying goal, the Leafs were short-handed as Jake McCabe was called for high sticking. The Leafs penalty killers did a fantastic job killing off the man advantage to keep it a 1-1 game. The first period would close, with the Leafs holding a 16-5 shot advantage. TOI leader after 20 minutes was Jake McCabe with 7:36. 

Both teams traded chances back and forth in the opening digger minutes of the second period. Credit to both goaltenders for holding their ground and keeping it a 1-1 game. A scary incident in the Blue Jackets zone as Mitch Marner had the back of his leg stepped on by Kent Johnson. Luckily for Marner, he was not cut and seemed alright as he skated off the ice under his own power. That could have ended so much worse than it did. Greaves made an incredible post-to-post save on Nick Abruzzese, but Alex Kerfoot was there to clean up the garbage for his 10th goal of the year and to give the Leafs a 2-1 lead at 7:25. Shortly after the go-ahead goal Boone Jenner was called for holding TJ Brodie giving the Leafs their second power play of the game. Once again, the top unit generated several chances but could not add to their lead with the man advantage. The Leafs continued to dominate the Blue Jackets, as most of the play was spent in the Jackets zone for several shifts. At the 17:17 mark of the middle frame, Alex Kerfoot was called for cross-checking Hunter McKown. The Blue Jackets managed to get two shots on goal with the man advantage, but the Leafs penalty killers did another fantastic job killing off the Blue Jackets man advantage. As the second period ended, the Leafs held a 17-12 advantage and a 33-17 advantage overall. TOI leader after 40 minutes for the blue and white was Justin Holl with 14:17. 

In the opening minute of the third period, Auston Matthews pulled off an amazing individual effort but just slid the puck wide of the goal. The first five minutes of the third period were controlled by the Leafs, but Greaves continued to hold his ground to keep his team within one goal. The Blue Jackets finally managed to sustain some offensive zone pressure as they hemmed the Leafs in their own zone for almost two straight minutes. With 11:49 to go in regulation, Jake McCabe let a shot fly from the point that deflected off of Aston-Reese and past Greaves to make it 3-1. The goal was Aston-Reese’s second goal of the game and 10th goal of the year. The Blue Jackets managed to get back within one as Eric Robinson flew down the wing and rifled a fantastic shot short side to beat Woll to make it a 3-2 game with 7:57 to go. The Leafs power play got yet another crack at it as Bayreuther was called for high-sticking Sam Lafferty. The Leafs top unit stayed out there for the entire two minutes, and they peppered Greaves, but he did a fantastic job of keeping his team within one. The Blue Jackets hemmed the Leafs in their own zone and applied tons of pressure, but they could not find the game-tying goal. Auston Matthews corralled a loose puck just inside his blue line, and he made no mistake hitting the empty net for his team-leading 38th goal of the year. The final seconds would tick off the clock, and the Leafs would skate away with a 4-2 victory in this one. Joseph Woll has now won four straight games at the NHL level. Shots on goal in the third period were 17-9 in favor of the Leafs, and they also held a 50-26 advantage overall. In this one, the TOI leader for the blue and white was Morgan Rielly, with 20:21. 

Tonight’s Three Stars 

1. Zach Aston-Reese: 2 Goals 

2. Jet Greaves: 47 Saves 

3. Auston Matthews: 1 Goal 

The Leafs are back in action on Thursday night as they head to Boston to take on the Bruins at TD Garden! 

For more Leafs news and in-game tweets, follow me on Twitter @mikethefanatic! Also, be sure to check out The Leafs Late Night Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts!

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