The Blue Jackets played one of their more sleepy first periods in recent memory tonight at the Air Canada Centre, and it cost them two points they really, really needed.
BLUE JACKETS 2 | MAPLE LEAFS 5
Ryan Johansen scored on a semi-breakaway three minutes into the opening period (his first of two goals in the game) to give Columbus an early lead, something they wanted to do against a Maple Leafs team that’s been in a period of transition and coming off a lopsided loss at home to Washington earlier in the week. They were in control early but it came apart later in the period, mostly from their own doing.
Turnovers, penalties and more turnovers doomed the Blue Jackets in a nightmare first period, as they gave up four answered goals to the Maple Leafs and trailed 4-1 after 20 minutes, out-shot 17-8 along the way.
What was an eventful but not fruitful first period (at least for Columbus) led to a sluggish second period, with both teams trudging through the neutral zone and only nine combined shots between them. The only goal in the middle frame came off the stick of Johansen, and it was a wicked shot from the right side that Jonathan Bernier never got a good look at.
The Blue Jackets were out-shot 23-11 through two periods but still in the game, needing a huge effort in the third period to erase a 4-2 deficit. They had a few chances but not enough of quality, and after a power play late in regulation came up empty, James van Riemsdyk scored his second of the night into an empty net to ice it for Toronto.
But there’s no time to dwell on tonight. The Blue Jackets are back in Columbus on Saturday night to face the red-hot New York Islanders, who are coming off an overtime win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.
The Blue Jackets had themselves an early lead courtesy of Johansen’s breakaway goal, but their response later in the first period had a residual effect on the rest of the game (and, in particular, on the scoreboard). They yielded two power play goals in the second half of the first period, had a hard time entering and exiting the zone and were at times dominated by the Leafs, and their first period lapses haunted them all night long.
vs. New York Islanders
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET