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Blue Jackets get rare home win against Maple Leafs

by Craig Merz /

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets and their fans waited a long time for a second home win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The wait proved worth it Friday, when the Blue Jackets scored four times in the third period for 5-2 victory.

Brandon Dubinsky scored a 4-on-3 shorthanded goal to give the Blue Jackets a 3-1 lead, and he assisted on Ryan Johansen's empty-net goal with 27 seconds left after the Maple Leafs had pulled to within one.

That was followed by a goal from Nick Foligno with seven seconds to go to cap a win more than 10 years in the making.

Columbus is 4-6-1 all-time against Toronto and lost three of the previous four to the Maple Leafs at Nationwide Arena. The only win was 4-3 in overtime on March 20, 2003, Toronto's first visit to Columbus.

Columbus (5-5-0) has won the first three of this four-game homestand.

"We're back to .500, and now we have to start climbing the standings," Dubinsky said. "This is big for us."

Blue Jackets rookie defenseman Ryan Murray scored his first NHL goal for a 1-0 lead in the first period, but Phil Kessel tied the score in the second to set up a wild third.

"Toronto's a good team and they're playing well, but tonight we played a little better," Foligno said. "It says a lot about our team."

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 23 shots for the Blue Jackets; Jonathan Bernier had 31 saves for the Maple Leafs.

Columbus won the battle between Toronto's No. 2 power play and the 26th-ranked Blue Jackets penalty-kill that had allowed at least one goal in five straight games. The Maple Leafs did not score in three attempts.

"We stuck together," Dubinsky said. "We were aggressive when we needed to be. [Bobrovsky] came up with big saves when he needed to. We just found a way to kill them off."

But the Maple Leafs (7-4-0) did make it 3-2 at 15:30 when Dave Bolland scored an even-strength goal off a rebound of a Paul Ranger shot.

The Maple Leafs pressured for the equalizer, but the Blue Jackets responded.

"It shows our resolve," Dubinsky said. "You can sit back in that situation and hope they don't score, or you can be proactive."

July free-agent signee David Clarkson made his debut for the Maple Leafs on right wing after serving a 10-game suspension for coming off the bench to fight in the final preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres. Coach Randy Carlyle wasted no time putting the Toronto native on the ice, starting him alongside Dave Bolland and Jay McClement.

"He looked rusty," Carlyle said. "The one thing is you know is he's going to try, he's going to work. The other things as far as the stickhandling and turnovers, you have to give the guy some slack. He hasn't played a game this year. Everybody else has got 10 games ahead of him."

Clarkson, who played 15:10 on 20 shifts, disagreed that he was rusty.

"I didn't feel that," he said. "The big thing is winning. When you get that first game under your belt it's good to get it out of the way, but we've got to get a better effort."

Clarkson's third shift resulted in him going to the penalty box for hooking, and the Blue Jackets took advantage at 4:55 on the goal by Murray, the second pick in the 2012 NHL Draft who missed most of last season in junior hockey after undergoing reconstructive shoulder surgery in November.

Murray skated deep from the right and was in position for the goal after James Wisniewski's shot from the left point was redirected by R.J. Umberger off the right post. The puck settled in the crease and Murray poked it in before Bernier could react.

"It's real exciting, glad I got it out of the way," said Murray, playing his 10th game. "It was definitely a gift sitting on the doorstep, but I'll definitely take it."

Kessel, who had three goals Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks in a 4-2 win, erased the lead 40 seconds into the second period, but the third belonged to the Blue Jackets.

"We didn't have a real good start to the hockey game at all for whatever reason, then we got a goal early in the second period and limited everything to the outside," Carlyle said. "We took a penalty at the end of the second period and our third period wasn't something that I could say we would be proud of."

Marian Gaborik's fifth goal of the season put Columbus ahead 2-1 at 3:12 of the third. He took a pass from behind the net from Foligno and one-timed the puck off the body of Bernier.

Bernier was better a few minutes later stopping a shorthanded breakaway by Artem Anisimov by closing the pads on a backhand attempt to keep the Maple Leafs within striking distance.

But Bernier was beaten on Toronto's next power play, a 4-on-3, when Dubinsky skated to the right circle, used teammate Mark Letestu as a decoy, and snapped a shot over the glove at 12:27 for a two-goal lead.

"There's obviously a little more ice there on 4-on-3 situations," Dubinsky said. "I tried to get it up the ice, and if somebody pressured me I was just going to get it out. [Letestu] did a good job of drawing other guys to the net and gave me a lane to fire the puck."

Columbus coach Todd Richards said he wasn't worried despite being down a man.

"Obviously it was a huge goal," he said. "To be honest with you I was pretty comfortable. The guys on the ice, I was confident they could do the job."

Bernier gave full marks to Dubinsky.

"You've got to give the shooter credit sometime," he said. "He put it right under the bar."

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