The Toronto Maple Leafs took a hop, skip, and a jump over a couple lakes to Columbus, Ohio to take on the Blue Jackets, and win a game after two losses to the Canucks and Sabres.
The Maple Leafs come out strong, looking to build some winning momentum with a home game tomorrow night. Nick Robertson got a taste for goals, and tries to double his to date total early on:
Then Petr Mrázek goes on a trip way out of the crease...
Then Ilya Mikheyev nets one after a couple close in rebound on Elvis Merzlikins.
Toronto Maple Leafs lead 1-0.
The Leafs continue to pressure Columbus as they try and build the lead. Nick Robertson teams up with William Nylander, but they can’t finish the deal.
In another universe, Nylander scored his 22nd from Robertson pic.twitter.com/wfSNuNatWE— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 8, 2022
Finally, after more than double Columbus in shots, the Leafs get their second via Mitch Marner:
This is a monster shift by Auston Matthews before Marner's goal pic.twitter.com/jxRMqQvle8— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 8, 2022
Just before the period ends, Auston Matthews doesn’t want to be left out of the fun, so he jumps onto the ice and scores his 40th goal of the season, the first NHLer to hit that number this year, and ties him for the most 40+ goal seasons in Maple Leafs history with Darryl Sittler.
Not bad for a Monday night in Columbus.
The period ends 3-0 Toronto.
The second period, opens with the Blue Jackets turning the tides and owning the first couple of minutes. All of that ends with Sean Kuraly bumps a Max Domi shot into the net to put the Jackets on the board.
Columbus doesn’t let up and is evening up the offense this period with some nice shot attempts and putting the posts to work as the PING!s rack up. Mrázek and Merzlikins are on top of their game, until about the midway point of the period where we’re all distracted by Max Domi taking offense to Justin Holl nudging him into the boards and the two have a scrap. It doesn’t turn into a donnybrook, thankfully.
Playing a game of almost goals is a lot less stressful when you’ve already scored three, but it’s a little frustrating nonetheless. Rielly, Tavares, Bunting, Matthews, Robertson, all come close but still, past the midway point of the game it’s still 3-1 Toronto.
Merzlinkins is me when my alarm goes off pic.twitter.com/Fe1Ggn8BOv— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 8, 2022
Travis Dermott gets called for interfering with Boone Jenners attempt to climb over his back by grabbing his face. Fair call refs, absolutely bang on correct. They get offsetting penalties and the last two minutes of the second will be played four on four.
Oliver Bjorkstrand score early on into the penalty time. 3-2 for Toronto and that ends the second period.
Both teams play hard to open the third to either keep or end the Maple Leafs lead, and John Tavares gets a little too into it and is called for holding within the first minute of the period. The Leafs hold them off for a minute, but Jack Roslovic ties the game by swooping in to collect a pass on the undefended side of the net.
Jack Roslovic. 3-3— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 8, 2022
Man that's a great pass from Domi pic.twitter.com/sv7RuIfQLR
Columbus continues to act like they’re on the power play, owning the puck, making Mrázek dive around the net, and getting the fans on their feet. They’re loading the cannon in anticipation.
Auston Matthews takes a shot from the boards, and it looks like the puck may have gone in under Merzlikins pads, and after a review it’s decided it stayed out. Alexander Kerfoot disagrees, and in protest nets a goal of his own.
4-3 Maple Leafs.
Columbus takes control again and traps the Leafs in their own end, shooting and catching rebounds, but they can’t tie on this play.
Leafs need to be stronger in front of their net— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 8, 2022
Ilya Lyubushkin: pic.twitter.com/YQOZ8PAuQT
Things slow down a little bit, with no big moves coming for a couple minutes, and then in a net front battle, Michael Bunting scores while Auston Matthews distracts everyone by standing in front of the net.
5-3 Maple Leafs, and it’s getting exciting!
With less then three minutes to go Timothy Liljegren is called for existing? Columbus gets a power play, pull the goalie and take on the Leafs six-on-four. They can’t score there, but once the power play ends, Patrik Laine scores to bring the game to 5-4.
With 45 seconds to go the Blue Jackets pull the goalie again and pepper the Leafs net with shots. The crowd is on their feet, lots of “ahhhh!”s happening. The Leafs clear the puck at the last second and win the game 5-4 to end their two game losing streak.
This wasn’t a cakewalk, Columbus worked had, some Leafs blew assignments, but a win is a win is a win and the Leafs won.
The Maple Leafs are back, hosting the Seattle Kraken for the first time, tomorrow night at 7:30.