In a battle of streaking teams and Eastern Conference contenders, Toronto got the best of Columbus on Friday night at Nationwide Arena by taking a 4-2 win. The Maple Leafs (26-10-2) won their fifth straight while Columbus (22-13-3) saw a five-game winning streak and seven-game point streak end.
Game in a Paragraph
In front of a lively Nationwide Arena sellout crowd, Columbus never led. Nick Foligno's first-period goal tied the score less than five minutes in, but John Tavares scored twice and Mitchell Marner added another before Frederik Gauthier scored in the third. Artemi Panarin tallied late in the third to set the final score.
Video: Wennberg talks about Toronto's speed
Quote of the Game
Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella: "I thought it was, out of our last four games including tonight, it was our best game - even in chances. I thought we did some good things. We had some zone time, generated some chances. Their goalie played well. Give him some credit, but some of our chances, especially from our back end, were shot wide. I think we would have generated more offense if we hit the net, just looking for rebounds, whatever it may be, but out of the last four games I thought it was our best game."
- Foligno scored his 10th goal of the season, reaching double figures for the sixth straight year, and also had a shorthanded breakaway chance.
- Panarin scored his 12th goal of the season and 100th of his NHL career to continue a four-game point streak.
- Zach Werenski had an assist to keep alive a four-game point streak.
For the first time in seven games, Columbus didn't score first as Toronto got a power-play goal just 2:22 into the game. Marner found Nazem Kadri in front and his redirect changed directions again off the skate of Tavares and went through Sergei Bobrovsky's legs to make it 1-0.
The Blue Jackets answered quickly, though, as Foligno tied the score at 4:47. A nifty feed from Wennberg sprung him into the offensive zone with speed, and Foligno let go a shot from the right circle that beat Garret Sparks for his 10th goal of the year.
Video: TOR@CBJ: Foligno wrists one past Sparks
It stayed 1-1 until late in the frame when Toronto took the lead for good at 18:04. Tavares got his second goal of the night as he gathered the puck at the left faceoff dot and let go a wicked wrist shot just under the bar.
There was plenty of good goaltending in the second but just one goal. It came off the stick of Marner at 9:46 as the teams skated 4-on-4 after a fracas sent Scott Harrington and Kasperi Kapanen to the box. The Jackets pushed for a goal in one direction leading to a 2-on-1 the other way, with Auston Matthews feeding Marner for a shot past Bobrovsky.
Bobrovsky had to make a number of saves on deflections in the period and also stopped Connor Brown on a 2-on-0, while Columbus' best chance came on its own odd-man rush as Werenski fired just wide of Sparks.
Head coach John Tortorella shook up the team's lines in the third period but to no avail as Columbus struggled to find quality scoring chances, and Toronto put the nail in the coffin with 6:16 left when Frederik Gauthier got to the front of the net and chipped a puck over Bobrovsky.
A goal by Panarin from the left dot on a one-timer feed from Werenski set the final margin with 1:28 to play.
By the Numbers
Columbus was 0-2 on the power play. … Bobrovsky took a regulation loss for the first time since Dec. 8. ... Toronto's Patrick Marleau played in his 1,613rd career NHL game, passing Ray Bourque for 10th all-time in NHL history. … Marner had three points for the third time in four games. ... Columbus fell to 1-3-2 this season in the second game of back-to-backs.
Forward Lukas Sedlak and defenseman Dean Kukan were again healthy scratches for the fifth game in a row. ... Anthony Duclair left the game on the first shift of the third period after going hard into the boards but eventually returned to the bench midway through the period.
The Blue Jackets are back in action New Year's Eve as Ottawa visits Monday for a 7 p.m. game at Nationwide Arena (Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports app, 97.1 The Fan).