Both games between the Jackets and the Maple Leafs this season have ended in a score of 5-2. The Jackets won the first match in February but found themselves on the losing end Wednesday in a game where the home team wasn't as opportunistic as they needed to be.
The Leafs built up a 2-0 lead in a physical first period before the Jackets found a way to answer in the second. Just a minute into the middle frame, Brandon Dubinsky fed David Savard with a pass from behind the net that the defenseman converted from the right circle for the Jackets' first goal of the night.
Brandon Saad notched the tying goal just over five minutes later when he deflected a Zach Werenski shot from the blue line to make it 2-2. But before the period was over, Toronto would retake the lead 3-2 off a William Nylander breakaway.
In the final period it was bad news after bad news. Oliver Bjorkstrand went down after being boarded by Roman Polak, and the Jackets couldn't convert the resulting 5-plus minutes of power play time that came as a result.
Bjorkstrand did not return to the game.
The Leafs added two more goals in the final five minutes, one into an empty net, to set the final score and hand the Jackets their first loss in five straight games.
Head coach John Tortorella did not have an update on Bjorkstrand's status after the game.
"It's disappointing because we battled back," Nick Foligno said. "Then they get a weird third one where they guy's cheating and ends up getting a breakaway and scores. But then we get a five-minute power play and don't get anything from it. Not even any zone time which is disappointing.
"We have to find a way to be opportunistic. That's the difference in this game tonight, Toronto was opportunistic and we weren't and that's the difference in the game."
Here's what we learned.
Video: Gagner on special teams hurting the Jackets tonight
Put the power back in the power play.
The Jackets had just one power play on the night, but it was a five-minute long opportunity that ended up extending to 6:54. The extra time came when Toronto did not put a player in the box to serve the penalty so they needed to wait until play was called dead, even after the penalty expired, to return to even strength play.
But the Jackets couldn't find a way to generate much. They got just one shot on goal in the first five minutes, and added three before play returned to five-on-five.
"We needed to at least generate some momentum and we didn't even do that, let alone score a goal," Tortorella said. "We were just ineffective."
Go into the final period even.
The Jackets rebounded in the second period and put up two goals to even the score 2-2. But Toronto scored again and went into the second intermission with a 3-2 lead. They didn't allow the Jackets to get another goal the rest of the night.
The Jackets are now 4-14-3 when trailing after two periods. The outcome has been much more favorable when the team heads into the final 20 minutes when they are at least tied (13-4-1).
"On the third goal, everybody's yelling from the bench," Tortorella said. "We're staring at the guy behind our 'D' and we can't let him get behind us when it is 2-2. That one hurt. I've talked many times about going into a third period even versus being down a goal. We needed to at least go into that third period even. I just think it's an easy goal for them."
Video: Nick Foligno on the physical play tonight
Rebound from the loss.
The Jackets remain the only team in the NHL to have not lost more than two games in a row. It's a marker of the team's ability to rebound from a bad game, and also an indicator of the strength of the group's mindset to focus on the task at hand.
As the Jackets head to Washington Thursday for a game against the Capitals, it's time to shake off Wednesday's game and get ready for a big matchup against the number one team in the League.
"We've been good at rebounding all year," Saad said. "From here on out you're not getting any easy ones."