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Maple Leafs fail to reach third in Atlantic Division

Lose to Blue Jackets, finish as second wild card from East

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs failed to secure third place in the Atlantic Division when they lost 3-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Air Canada Centre on Sunday in the regular-season finale for each team.

"I think we have to move forward," said forward James van Riemsdyk, who scored both Toronto goals. "We're obviously looking forward to playing in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] now and we have a good challenge in front of us."

The Maple Leafs (40-27-15) will play the No. 1 seed Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference First Round. With a win or a loss in overtime or the shootout against the Blue Jackets, Toronto would have passed the Boston Bruins for third in the Atlantic and had a first-round matchup against the Ottawa Senators, who were second in the division.

 

WATCH: All Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs highlights

 

The Blue Jackets (50-24-8), who were third in the Metropolitan Division, will play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Matt Calvert, Josh Anderson and Cam Atkinson scored, and Joonas Korpisalo made 30 saves for Columbus, which ended a six-game losing streak.

"They should feel good about themselves," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "It's been a little while, but they get to put the music on, so I'm happy."

Video: CBJ@TOR: McElhinney stifles Bjorkstrand's big drive

Toronto goalie Curtis McElhinney made 29 saves against his former team.

The Maple Leafs outshot the Blue Jackets 12-6 in the first period, when they had three power plays, including a double minor for high sticking on Columbus forward William Karlsson against Brian Boyle at 5:48, but failed to score.

Van Riemsdyk scored at 2:03 of the second period and again at 6:36 to put the Maple Leafs up 2-0, but the Blue Jackets responded with three straight goals in the period to take a 3-2 lead.

Calvert scored at 12:32 to get Columbus within 2-1. 

Anderson tied it 2-2 when he took advantage of Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner falling at the blue line, skated into the zone, and beat McElhinney with a wrist shot at 17:16.

Video: CBJ@TOR: van Riemsdyk finds twine on wrister

"I thought we forechecked better," Tortorella said. "We got a little bit of a break when the defenseman fell down and [Anderson] scores that goal, but that's capitalizing on your chances."

Atkinson gave the Blue Jackets the 3-2 lead when he scored shorthanded with 40 seconds left in the period.

Columbus outshot Toronto 20-9 in the second.

 

Goal of the game

Van Riemsdyk skated into the Blue Jackets zone on a 2-on-1 with Mitchell Marner but held the puck and put a wrist shot high over Korpisalo's blocker.

Video: CBJ@TOR: van Riemsdyk nets second on two-on-one rush

 

Save of the game

Auston Matthews skated wide around Blue Jackets defenseman Kyle Quincey on the left side before Korpisalo denied his backhand from the top of the crease with his left pad at 13:59 of the third period, keeping Columbus ahead 3-2.

 

Highlight of the game

Trailing the play while Calvert carried the puck into the Maple Leafs zone with the Blue Jackets on the penalty kill, Atkinson took a pass from Calvert and put a wrist shot over McElhinney's glove for the go-ahead goal.

Video: CBJ@TOR: Atkinson buries SHG on the rush for lead

 

Unsung performance of the game

At 8:30 of the third period, Lauri Korpikoski blocked a slap shot from Gardiner at the top of the right faceoff circle to prevent a dangerous scoring chance with the Blue Jackets leading 3-2.

 

They said it

"[The Washington Capitals are] probably the best team in our league. Their skill level and their depth, their goaltending, the way they defend, we got a taste of it firsthand here [in a 4-1 loss Tuesday]. It's going to be a challenge; we're going to have to compete." -- Maple Leafs forward Brian Boyle on facing the Capitals in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

 

"Last night, I was walking home and people were just so pumped, and that's exciting to see. People usually don't recognize me, and they obviously did just because I think they were so excited. Hopefully, we can make a run at it, so we're looking forward to it as well." -- Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner on the playoff buzz in Toronto

 

"We played with arrogance tonight. I thought every line contributed and our defense were making great plays. It feels good going into (the Eastern Conference First Round against the) Pittsburgh [Penguins]." -- Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson on ending a six-game losing streak in the season finale

 

Need to know

Defenseman Seth Jones and forwards Alexander Wennberg and Scott Hartnell each was a healthy scratch for the Blue Jackets. ... Maple Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev left the game with an upper-body injury after playing one shift in the second period. Coach Mike Babcock said he is not concerned about Zaitsev's status for Game 1 against the Capitals. Toronto finished the season with 85 first-period goals (first in the NHL). They scored 48 first-period goals in 2015-16 (last in the NHL). ... With two goals, van Riemsdyk established a new single-season NHL career high with 62 points.

 

What's next

Blue Jackets: Game 1 of Eastern Conference First Round at Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; USA, SN 360, TVA Sports)

Maple Leafs: Game 1 of Eastern Conference First Round at Washington Capitals on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, TVA Sports)

 

Video: Atkinson lifts Blue Jackets past Maple Leafs, 3-2

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