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FINAL: Maple Leafs 4, Blue Jackets 1

Atkinson ties NHL record but Columbus drops season opener

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

Columbus opened up the 2019-20 season Friday night at Nationwide Arena with a 4-1 loss against Toronto.  

Game in a Paragraph 

In front of amped-up Nationwide Arena crowd of 18,776, Columbus fell into a 2-0 hole against the visitors, but a power-play tally in the second made it a one-goal game going to the third. The Leafs scored quickly in the third period, though, and were able to finish off the win from there.

Quote of the Night

Head coach John Tortorella: "We developed some offense. We just didn't finish. ... I thought the important part of the game was we had opportunities at really key times to maybe change the momentum, and we didn't."

CBJ Notables 

  • Cam Atkinson scored in a season opener for the sixth straight season, tying an NHL record set by Detroit's Mud Bruneteau from 1940-46 and Montreal's Yvon Cournoyer from 1973-79. Atkinson also had a team-high seven shots on goal.
  • Josh Anderson had six shots on goal for the Blue Jackets and created a number of scoring chances.  

Quick Recap 

It was a quiet first period, but Toronto led 1-0 thanks to a power-play goal. Seven seconds after David Savard was boxed for interference, the Leafs moved the puck quickly, with John Tavares teeing up Mitch Marner in the left circle for a one-timer past goalie Joonas Korpisalo. 

Things came to life in the second, though, with the Blue Jackets line of Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner and Anderson leading the way. Anderson in particular was everywhere, with the power forward nearly tying the game early in the frame after Scott Harrington sprung him on a breakaway, but Frederik Andersen got a piece of it and sent it over the bar.  

Toronto, then, made it 2-0 at the 10:35 mark. After Columbus was forced to take an icing amid a long shift, the Leafs won the draw and Mike Rielly set up Cody Ceci in the right circle for a shot through a screen and past Korpisalo's blocker far side. 

Anderson then drew a power play at 14:07 as Rielly held him driving to the net on a 3-on-2, and Columbus tied it just four seconds into the man advantage. Off the draw, Andersen tried to play the puck but couldn't get much on it, and Atkinson was johnny on the spot to collect it and slide it through the Toronto goalie's legs before he could get reset.  

The teams traded scoring chances the rest of the period but went to the rooms with the Maple Leafs up 2-1. But Toronto needed just 2:16 to make it a 3-1 game, as with the teams skating 4-on-4, Marner slipped through the defense and got the puck to the net, then slid it into the crease and through Korpisalo for the goal.  

A few minutes later, Jenner hit the crossbar on the rebound of an Anderson shot, and Andersen stoned Foligno in front with 10 minutes to go. 

Toronto then struck the dagger with 5:56 to go as Auston Matthews scored on the power play, pumping a laser past Korpisalo and off the back bar and out. 

Three Takeaways

1. Too many penalties: The Blue Jackets were shorthanded on average about two and a half times per game a season ago, but Columbus had to try to kill five penalties against the Leafs. Toronto scored twice on the power play with goals from Marner and Atkinson, leaving the Blue Jackets ruing the chances they allowed. "You never want to be in the box against talent and skill like that," Seth Jones said. 

2. Korpisalo's night: It was a mixed bag for Korpisalo, who the team turned to in its season opener for the second year in a row. This time was a bit different, though, as he enters the year as the No. 1 goalie. He made a number of quality stops but left wishing he had done better, especially since he got a piece of the second and third Toronto goals. "I played good, except I want those goals back, obviously," he said. "But (stuff) happens. That's life." 

3. Strong night for 71-38-77: Foligno, Jenner and Anderson formed a line the Blue Jackets turned to often to set their identity a season ago, and it was no different tonight. The three combined for 11 shots on goal, not including Jenner's crossbar in the third period, and eight hits, and Anderson drew the penalty that led to the team's lone goal on the power play. "Our best offensive line," Tortorella said, "but they have to finish." 

Notable 

Korpisalo finished with 25 saves while Andersen had 28 as each team had 29 shots on goal. ... The Blue Jackets fell to 8-9-2 all-time in season openers. … Columbus has a power-play goal in eight straight season openers. … The game was just Torontos' 14th ever in Nationwide Arena. … The Leafs were 2-for-5 on the power play. Columbus allowed multiple power-play goals in a game just four times last season. ... Columbus was 1-5 with the man advantage. ... Emil Bemstroms skated 9:10 in his NHL debut while Jakob Lilja earned 7:28 of ice time. 

Roster Report 

Columbus scratched forward Sonny Milano and defensemen Vladislav Gavrikov and Dean Kukan in its opener.  

Up Next 

Columbus will get right back on the horse, playing at Pittsburgh on Saturday night in the second half of a back-to-back. Puck drop from PPG Paints Arena will be 7 p.m. 

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