There's a lot going wrong with the Leafs. Fixing one problem isn't the solution. That was extant in this 6-5 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Ilya Samsonov allowed 6 goals on 20 shots, and it was 4 on 11 at one point in the second period. That's a problem.

The defense limited the Blue Jackets to only 20 shots and only 1.6 expected goals, but they also allowed several bad rush chances – including a 3-on-1 – that aren't perfectly accounted for in expected goals. That's a problem.

The Leafs led by two a couple times, so the scoring is there and it's hard to complain with five goals in a game. Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Tavares, and Nick Robertson all scored for the Leafs. Noah Gregor continued his streak of having a great rush chance and either hitting the post or drawing a penalty. Overall, the offense is not the problem.

It kind of sucks that after years of needing a better defense, the Leafs of last year finally figured it out only for the team to go back several years now. Get more defensive players. Scoring was never an issue.


Concluding the introduction of the recap, the Blue Jackets got goals from Sillinger, Gaunce, Voronkov, Johnson, Fantilli, and Gaudreau. Elvis Merzlikins left the game after one period due to an illness after allowing two goals. Spencer Martin allowed two on 19 shots the rest of the way and got the win thanks to the Blue Jackets offense.

First Period

Adam Fantilli left the game early after blocking a big slap-shot from Giordano, who himself was newly returned to the lineup.


A beauty for Mitch Marner from Morgan Rielly! Johnny Gaudreau did the classic junior play of skating up the ice on your own, getting turned around by four guys, and give the other team a running start at an odd-man rush. I'm not upset the Leafs young players have grown out of those plays when they were in their teens and early twenties.

The Leafs have a fair number of flaws, and they definitely become issues against bad teams, but boy do the Blue Jackets give the puck away a lot. They lose tonnes of battles along the boards.

Fantilli came back to the game and immediately got hit with another point shot! Welcome to the league, kid?


Liljegren fell skating behind the net – or maybe was tripped? – but Cole Sillinger got the puck, disappeared in the chaos, and scored to tie the game.


Matthews got that one right back with his 29th goal of the season!!! Ready, set, fire from Auston under coverage. That's his 15th goal of December!

The Leafs had a power play for the last couple minutes of the period after Voronkov took an interference penalty in the offensive zone.

After One

Both teams scored on their second shots of the game. It took the Leafs four minutes to get their second shot, it took the Blue Jackets 11 minutes to get theirs. The shot clock reached 14-4 by the end of the period. Shot attempts were 23-13 (64%) and the Leafs held 85% of the expected goals, which is a big advantage in shot quality compared to just shots.

The shot map after one was a big red blob in front of the Blue Jackets' net, and a smattering of distance shots in the Leafs zone.

Just as the second period was starting, Spencer Martin came out in net for the Blue Jackets, with Elvis Merzlikins absent from the bench. The team confirmed it's an illness for Merzlikins. and the video of him leaving the ice after the first period shows him in a lot of discomfort.

Second Period


Nick Robertson kicked off the second period with a deflection goal off Liljegren's point shot.


Brendan Gaunce (Marlie Cameron's brother) got that goal right back thanks to a 3-on-1 the Leafs gave the Blue Jackets because of a line change. Gaunce's shot bounced off Samsonov's blocker, flipped up over his shoulder and under the crossbar in slo-mo comedic fashion on the replay.


Woah-ho-ho Willy Nylander. A sneaky goal on the power play, finding daylight above Martin from a terrible angle. Top notch goal.

Järnkrok got a big push from Sillinger after a whistle, which led to them intimately wrestling in the corner. Both got sent to the box for breaking the peace.

But then Nylander did a double-handed trip (I don't exactly know what he was thinking) on Jiricek. Jiricek fell on Nylander's stick, which shouldn't surprise anyone.

And that's when Samsonov said I'll take it from here...


Voronkov scored on the 4v3 power play, deflecting the puck through Samsonov's five-hole.


Kent Johnson benefitted from Emil Bemstrom winning a battle against Rielly, with Brodie and Domi failing to back him up.

Benoit was jawing at Fantilli for getting upset about a botched icing call, so Gudbranson fought him. I think Benoit tried to kick off the fight with a superman punch? It didn't land as Gudbranson is pretty damn strong and caught his hand.


Tavares got the lead back five seconds into a power play with Texier in the box. Nylander. All started with JT's faceoff win, and Nylander and Rielly's rotation. The goal might go to Nylander, who was credited for it initially.

After Two

The Blue Jackets had scored four goals on 11 when they tied the game with seven minutes left in the period. That is also how they left it at the end of the second period.

The Leafs objectively did a great job of limiting the number of chances, which by definition also reduces the number of dangerous chances, but they just couldn't get some saves.

After this period, Samsonov has given up four goals or more in 8/14 games he's played in, and four in a row.

Third Period


Fantilli shows some flash and beats Samsonov from the faceoff dot off the rush.

The Matthews line responded on the next shift with lots of offensive zone time and a couple shots, but no goal.

McCabe was limping after pushing to get back to defend a rush chance. We didn't see what happened to him, but he had to finish his shift before the puck got cleared by the third line.

After Three

The Leafs held the Blue Jackets to 19 shots in regulation. They themselves had 34 in the game. Will the 20th or 35th end the game?


Fantilli dekes Samsonov out but shoots it just wide.

I could be wrong, but Matthews and Marner played at least two of the first three minutes of overtime.


Gaudreau scores, ends the game in front of the net.