Skip to main content

Babcock gets first win, Maple Leafs top Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Mike Babcock got his first win as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs when they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3 at Nationwide Arena on Friday.

Babcock signed with Toronto on May 20 after 10 seasons coaching the Detroit Red Wings. The Maple Leafs (1-2-1) lost their first three games of the season.

Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf presented Babcock with the game puck.

"I like winning as much as the next guy and maybe more than the next guy," Babcock said. "I'm kind of used to it. A lot of positive things have happened since I arrived here."

Joffrey Lupul scored to break a 3-3 tie in the third period, and Leo Komarov scored two late goals.

The Blue Jackets (0-5-0) have been outscored 26-12, including 17-8 in three home games; they have allowed three third-period goals in each of those.

"We're getting booed off the ice," Columbus center Brandon Dubinsky said. "We know everyone's giving up on us. We can't give up on each other.

"We have to take a good hard look at ourselves. We've got to grab onto something. We're failing down the hill right now."

Boone Jenner scored in the first period to give Columbus a 1-0 lead, but Toronto scored the next three goals, all in the second period, by Jake Gardiner, James van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri.

"We're a group that can score by committee," Toronto left wing Daniel Winnik said. "The way Mike's system is, if you keep doing the right things, you go to the net, that's where a lot of our goals are from."

The Maple Leafs scored five goals in the first three games. Winnik had three assists Friday, and Toronto goaltender James Reimer made 24 saves to defeat Columbus for the first time in four games.

"We know we can score," Toronto left wing Shawn Mathias said. "We have good [defense]. [Reimer] stood on his head for us. Once you start scoring some goals, you start believing in yourself offensively."

Columbus' Nick Foligno scored with 1:58 left in the second period and Scott Hartnell scored 59 seconds into the third to tie the game 3-3. The goal for Hartnell was his 600th NHL point.

"If you're winning there's always going to be a time when the other team has a push," Lupul said. "That happened in the second period, then they scored a nice power-play goal to start the third period. We stuck with it. We thought we were the better team the majority of the game so we were confident."

Lupul gave the Maple Leafs a 4-3 lead 4:00 into the third period. The puck came within inches of leaving the zone, but defenseman Dion Phaneuf swatted it toward the goal where Lupul was stationed for the shot that escaped goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

"It's important for the guys to understand they're working harder," Babcock said. "They're playing with better structure and they're competing harder. If you keep doing those things, you'll be rewarded over time."

Bobrovsky has allowed at least four goals in each of his five starts.

"We're a fragile group right now," Dubinsky said. "I don't think confidence is in our favor."

Komarov made it 5-3 with 4:09 left by beating Bobrovsky five-hole. Komarov then scored into an empty net with a minute to play.

"It's the mental errors, the little lapses that are killing us," Foligno said. "The NHL doesn't wait for anybody. It will pass you by. We have to find a way to get on the winning train."

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.