The Blue Jackets were well aware of the speed possessed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, and despite playing the night before, it was the latter that kept the pedal to the metal.
Joey Crabb scored his second goal in as many games to open the scoring at 6:09 of the first period, taking a sweet diagonal feed in the slot from red-hot Joffrey Lupul. Crabb out-waited Columbus goalie Steve Mason and elevated the puck under the crossbar for a 1-0 lead. The Blue Jackets had some momentum in their favor early in the period thanks to Maple Leaf penalties, but were unable to beat Ben Scrivens. The rookie goaltender out of Cornell was making his first NHL start in place of Jonas Gustavsson.
Late in the opening period, Clarke MacArthur beat Mason far-side on a wrist shot that was the Maple Leafs’ fourth shot of the game. It was the kind of goal that teams hate to give up late in a period, but the Blue Jackets still had 40 minutes left to turn things around.
Toronto quickly swelled its lead to three goals early in the second period. Defenseman John-Michael Liles fired a low wrist shot through traffic that snuck under Mason’s blocking arm. At first, it appeared that NHL leading scorer Phil Kessel deflected Liles’ shot, but the goal was credited to Liles. MacArthur struck again on a similar play at 5:31 of the second period, unleashing a slap shot from the left circle that found its way inside the left post. That goal made it 4-0 for the Maple Leafs and Allen York came on in relief of Mason.
On a brighter note for the Blue Jackets, rookie center Ryan Johansen continued on his recent run of strong play, pulling the Blue Jackets to within 4-1 at 11:20 of the second period but that is where the offense stopped for Columbus. It was his second goal in two games, after scoring a beautiful goal on Anaheim Ducks goaltender Dan Ellis last week.
Tonight’s loss stopped the Blue Jackets winning streak on home ice at two games, with their next home start coming next Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel was admittedly disappointed that his club carried a 2-0 deficit into the first intermission, and he addressed the importance of starting the second period on a better note.
On a broken play, Liles received a feed on the left point from Lupul who immediately went to the net. Liles’ wrist shot snuck in the stick-side post and gave the Maple Leafs a commanding three-goal lead. It was a goal that Arniel said “took the wind out of (their) sails.”
The goal came just 50 seconds into the second period, and made it more difficult for the Blue Jackets to claw their way back into the game.
- The Blue Jackets penalty kill has been vastly improved in less than a week’s time. Since allowing six goals on 13 penalties in four previous games, Columbus has killed off 10-of-10 since. The Maple Leafs were 0-for-2 on the power play tonight.
- The Blue Jackets are now 20-17-4 all-time against the Ducks, and with tonight’s victory hold a 11-9-1 edge at Nationwide Arena.
- Getting on the scoreboard first has been an issue for the Blue Jackets this season. Columbus has allowed the first goal in nine of 13 games this season. The Blue Jackets are now 3-6-1 all-time against Toronto, including a 1-3-0 record at Nationwide Arena.
- Antoine Vermette has assists in six of the past seven games after picking up a helper on Johansen’s goal. He won 13-of-17 face-offs (76.5 percent) on the night. Since being acquired by the Blue Jackets on Mar. 4, 2009, he has played in 193 straight games. It is the fourth longest streak in franchise history, one game shy of matching David Vyborny for third, as his streak stands at 194 games (set Oct. 17, 2002-Dec. 20, 2005).
- Matt Calvert has played well since being recalled from Springfield (AHL). Playing on a line with Vermette and Johansen the past few games, he has used his outside speed and shown flashes of his scoring touch around the net. Calvert has assists in back-to-back games after registering an assist on Johansen’s goal. The assists come after he went four games without a helper.
- Though he did not appear on the scoresheet, R.J. Umberger was a force on the ice tonight for the Blue Jackets. He drew a pair of penalties (including one on Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf on a slick drive to the net) and was one of the better Columbus forwards in the game. He played 18:49 total, fired seven shots on goal and won 6-of-8 face-offs.
- Johansen has goals in back-to-back games for the first time in his NHL career after scoring his third goal of the season in the second period. He has collected 3-2-5 the past six games after being held pointless his first four NHL games.
at Philadelphia Flyers
Wells Fargo Center | Philadelphia, Pa.
Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com