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Recap: Blue Jackets 3, Leafs 1

The Blue Jackets' young goaltender Korpisalo was the difference in this one as the Leafs peppered him with 42 pucks.

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Box ScoreWar On Ice

Tonight's game saw two roster changes of note for the Leafs, the first and most-discussed being James van Riemsdyk's injury, resulting in the calling up of Josh Leivo, who saw his first NHL action this season. Shawn Matthias filled in for JvR on the Bozak line, while the under-used Brad Boyes remained at his usual 4th line post. Boosting Matthias' trade value, of course, isn't a bad thing. The second saw Frank Corrado scratched again in favour of Martin Marincin, though it's difficult to see why both couldn't be included over oh, say, Roman Polak. Oh well.

The Leafs started out strong against Columbus, jumping out to a 6-0 lead in shots early on, and then went to a power play less than four minutes in, but were unable to generate much with the man advantage. Boyes had a good look on net with Leivo screening the Blue Jackets' Joonas Korpisale, but Boyes shot the puck wide.

The Jackets pushed back a bit, and James Reimer, playing just his second game of 2016, was up to the task. There were a couple scrambling plays, including a bit of a swim after a puck bounced off the back boards and in front of the net, but the puck stayed out.

As Scott Hartnell sat in the box for high-sticking Dion Phaneuf (suck it, Hartnell!) Nazem Kadri had a great chance to open the scoring, but Korpisale came up big, taking away the top half of the net as Kadri looked to put home a rebound following some great power play passing by the Leafs.

It was Boone Jenner who tipped home a Seth Jones shot to put Columbus up 1-0. Reimer made a pair of good stops in the sequence leading up to the goal, and really had no chance on the play, as the the puck went from being a low pad save to a top corner shot.

With 1:50 left in the first, it was Phaneuf who coughed up the puck, carrying it out of his own zone. The giveaway sent Jenner in all alone, but Reimer stayed with him, and the puck rolled off Jenner's stick at the last second.

In a busy finish to the period, Hartnell was again called for a minor penalty, this time for getting his stick into the skates of Hunwick. The Leafs carried a 1:24 power play into the second.

After 20 minutes, it was the Leafs who carried the lead on the shot clock 10-8, as well as a 18-14 lead in 5v5 shot attempts.

The Blue Jackets killed off the penalty and the followed it up with several strong shifts, hemming in both the Bozak line and the Kadri line, as well as the Leafs' fourth line. The Leafs' defensive and neutral zone play looked somewhat disjointed to this point in the game, as those short passes that are usually cleanly completed by the Leafs looked panicked and often resulted in dump-outs.

The Leafs slowly turned the tide of play, with their third line leading the way. Joffrey Lupul had several great shifts, and Holland had several drives to the net that certainly never happened under Randy Carlyle. Next, it was the Kadri line spending a bit of time in the offensive zone, creating a couple good chances via their cycle game. Korpisalo, however, stood tall.

At 16:07 of the second, Columbus went ahead 2-0 as Alexander Wennberg swept home a rebound past a sprawling Reimer. Wennberg went to the net and P.A. Parenteau (who was the forward down low in the play) failed to notice him. Wennberg tipped a shot on net and Reimer made the save, but before Reimer could smother the rebound, Wennberg reached around him and tucked the puck home.

After two periods, the Leafs were up 25-17 on the shot clock and 46-36 in 5v5 Corsi For, but trailed 2-0 on the scoreboard.

The Leafs have yet to win a game this season when trailing after two periods.

Toronto controlled the play to start the third, but pucks seemed to dribble off sticks and between feet around the net, as they lacked the finish to solve the young Columbus netminder. Babcock shuffled a line or two, putting Boyes up on the Kadri line. This type of change has been uncommon for Babcock, but then, when your team can't score through two games, something has to change.

As the Leafs continued to press the Jackets continued clogging up the middle of the ice, blocking all kinds of passes and shots. Finally, it was Brad Boyes who cashed in off a Leo Komarov tip at 17:33 of the third to bring the Leafs within one goal while Reimer was pulled for the extra attacker.

Just as things began to look interesting, Phaneuf took a penalty for hooking as he tried to prevent Columbus from scoring on the empty net. The Leafs managed to re-gain the Columbus zone briefly, allowing them to pull Reimer again, but Dubinsky managed to grab a loose puck and pick up and put this one away.

At the end of three, the shots were 42-22 for the Leafs, and honestly didn't look bad tonight. Apart from a handful of turnovers and the wild tip play that opened the scoring for Columbus, the Leafs were the better team. Sometimes, you lose even when you're better.

Notes on individual players

- Shawn Matthias was strong on the puck all game. He uses his lanky frame well to protect the puck and in that sense, helped fill the shoes of the injured JvR.

- Joffrey Lupul looked more dangerous than usual playing with Peter Holland. The two combined for several great chances, and it was unfortunate that they couldn't cash in.

- Dion Phaneuf had a handful of nice plays to go with a few ugly ones. He levelled Brandon Dubinsky in the first with a very nice open-ice hit, but then also got danced by Brandon Saad later on, and also had that horrible giveaway to Jenner in the first. Oh right, and then the penalty at the end to negate the Leafs' (already slim) chances of tying the game.

- Josh Leivo saw time with the top power play unit tonight, and looked good creating screens and causing trouble in front of the net.

- Nazem Kadri was good tonight, leading the Leafs with 6 shots on goal.

- It wasn't a bad game for either of Jake Gardiner or Morgan Rielly - Rielly even managed an assist on the late goal - but I'd like to see each of them join the rush a bit more than they have been of late. Rielly in particular began this season with a lot of enthusiasm for that aspect of the game but has quieted down quite a bit in that regard. Also worthy of note is that Rielly lead the team in ice time with over 24 total minutes played.

- P.A. Parenteau looked good tonight. He had several good rushes and hung on to the puck well in the offensive zone, especially while creating movement by skating around the perimeter.