BLUE JACKETS 2 | MAPLE LEAFS 5
ANALYSIS: After a shot and chance-filled first period, both teams settled into the second period with the Blue Jackets getting the only goal. Ryan Johansen's second of the game was a laser from the right point, a power play marker that gives him two goals in the game (15 on the season) and makes it a two-goal deficit for the Jackets with 20 minutes to play. The Blue Jackets had a handful of quality looks in the second but were unable to covert, including a trickler at the net-front that Cam Atkinson juuuuuust couldn't get to late in the period, mainly due to a timely stick check by the Leafs defender. In the second period, shots were 6-3 favoring the Leafs but the bulk of the zone time belonged to the Jackets, who need a lot of more what they did in the second period in order to make this interesting in the third.
Johansen's Second Goal
ANALYSIS: An ideal start for the Blue Jackets, getting an early goal from Ryan Johansen and taking a lead three minutes into the game. After that, though, there wasn't a whole lot to like. They were out-shot 18-8 in the first period and the Leafs scored four unanswered goals to take a commanding lead into the break. It started to come unraveled with penalty trouble, when the Jackets took a bad interference penalty and followed that up with a careless too many men penalty 21 seconds later. The Leafs scored twice on the 5-on-3 turned 5-on-4 and Sergei Bobrovsky was absolutely under siege in the opening 20. It's going to take a serious about-face to get this back on track, but there are 40 minutes left to make that happen.
Ryan Johansen Goal
UPDATE (5:15 PM): The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to a four-year contract extension.
Cody Goloubef Pre-Game
Ryan Johansen Pre-Game
Todd Richards Pre-Game
UPDATE (11:50 AM): No lineup changes for the Blue Jackets means the healthy scratches will be Corey Tropp, Dalton Prout and Jordan Leopold.
UPDATE (11:40 AM): Fox Sports Ohio's Dave Maetzold reports that the Blue Jackets are using the same lines during the morning skate at Air Canada Centre. Based on that, here are the projected lines and pairings for tonight's game...
UPDATE (11:10 AM): Jonas Siegel of TSN 1050 Radio reports that Jonathan Bernier will get the start in goal for the Maple Leafs tonight. Bernier is 15-10-3 this season with a .916 save percentage and a 2.75 goals-against average.
How's everyone braving the cold in Columbus?
With the temperatures dropping in Ohio, the Blue Jackets are red hot and headed north of the border to do battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs. While the Jackets have won five of their last seven games, the Leafs have lost eight of 10.
Their struggles on the ice haven't been the only news out of Air Canada Centre this week, as the team parted ways with head coach Randy Carlyle on Tuesday. Carlyle was the bench boss in Toronto since March 2012 when he joined the team mid-season, but now interim coach Peter Horachek will take over.
The Blue Jackets are moving in the opposite direction, rising above the .500 mark and now sitting only nine points behind the Boston Bruins for the final wild-card spot, with four games in hand.
That push continues tonight, and here are a few nuggets to prep you for a pivotal matchup for two teams in the hunt:
- This is Peter Horachek's second interim coaching job in two seasons, having taken the reins in Florida after the Panthers fired Kevin Dineen. Horachek finished the season 26-36-4 before he too was let go. Toronto Globe and Mail reporter James Mirtle said in the summer that Horachek, a long-time assistant with the Predators, decided against joining Barry Trotz in Washington because he was hoping for another chance at being a head coach. For the time being, he'll have that opportunity in Toronto.
- The Maple Leafs are a high-powered offensive team, scoring the second-most goals in the league and boasting a roster with Phil Kessel, James Van Riemsdyk, and Nazem Kadri, not to mention the injured Joffrey Lupul. Despite their high scoring rank, they have the fourth-worst possession numbers (namely Corsi For percentage) in the NHL. Plainly, the Maple Leafs don't have the puck all that much but when they do, they score goals.
- Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen are enjoying their reunion. In two games together on the top line, Foligno has five assists, while Johansen has two goals and a helper of his own.
- Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to get the start in goal for the Blue Jackets. He was spetacular in Dallas on Tuesday night, particularly in the third period when he made 11 saves. Bobrovsky is 6-1-0 in his career against the Leafs.