With 40 minutes in the books at Air Canada Centre tonight, there wasn’t much to write home about for either the Blue Jackets or the Maple Leafs.
And then the third period came along.
That’s when the dam broke for Columbus, scoring three times in the final 20 minutes to pull away from Toronto and win 5-1, their second straight road win after losing their previous seven games away from Nationwide Arena.
Brandon Dubinsky scored twice – both goals coming in the third period – and Oliver Bjorkstrand chipped in a goal and an assist to lock up two points for the Blue Jackets, who wrap up their regular season with a back-to-back this weekend against Buffalo and Chicago.
“We ended up making a few offensive plays to score some goals,” coach John Tortorella said. “We defended well.”
“If we’re going to progress as a team, (Dubinsky) has to score. He’s a guy that ends up with a lot of chances. He has more to give – he knows that – and if we’re going to be a better team, it has to be there."
The Leafs might be going through a rebuilding, transitional season, but any team that plays for Mike Babcock is always going to make you work for it. After a sleepy opening period, the Blue Jackets got a wake-up call in the second period when Morgan Rielly capped off a well-executed 3-on-2, beating Sergei Bobrovsky for a shorthanded opening goal only 1:43 into the frame.
Toronto held on to its 1-0 lead for most of the second period until the Blue Jackets struck for two goals in the latter stages, the first coming from Brandon Saad.
Saad received a pass from Bjorkstrand in the neutral zone and blew past the Maple Leafs defense, and after one quick deke to his forehand across the face of the goal, he beat Garret Sparks five-hole to tie the game at 11:13.
At 17:31, Dubinsky scored his first of two to finish off a sweet pass from Cam Atkinson, going upstairs on Sparks to give the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead, a lead they would take into the dressing room with 20 minutes to play.
Then, the party started.
Bjorkstrand did what he does best – shoot the puck from just about anywhere – and it resulted in the 3-1 goal at 8:43 of the third period. Right off the draw, Bjorkstrand found the puck in the right circle and beat Sparks with a well-placed shot inside the post.
“(Tortorella) wants us to shoot the puck,” Bjorkstrand said. “You never know, you keep putting pucks on net and sometimes they’ll go in.”
Only 56 seconds later, Matt Calvert’s ninth goal of the season pushed the Columbus lead to 4-1. Dubinsky would cap the scoring with his second of the night – set up deftly by Calvert’s cross-ice pass.
And with the victory, Bobrovsky became the Blue Jackets’ all-time wins leader with his 97th.
“It’s a great honor,” Bobrovsky said. “I hope there are more to come.”