4-1 Win over the Columbus Blue Jackets
Oct 31, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Daniel Winnik (26) celebrates his first goal of the season on a shot against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Curtis McElhinney (30) in the third period at Nationwide Arena. The Leafs won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
People were looking to see how the Leafs would respond after a dominant win over the Sabres and they did not disappoint. The Columbus Blue Jackets were coming into the game with a bunch of injuries to Nathan Horton, Boone Jenner, Brandon Dubinsky, Matt Calvert, Sergei Bobrovsky, Artem Anisimov, James Wisniewski, and Mark Letestu. Let’s just say the Leafs had another favourable matchup.
However it was a much more difficult task, because their opponent was able to get more than 20 shots on goal. Before the game it was revealed that Lupul would not play because of a hand injury – further reports suggested that it was a broken hand. As a result Daniel Winnik was promoted to the top line in Lupul’s absence and he did not disappoint. In his 500th NHL game, Winnik scored a goal while adding two assists in his best game of the season so far.
Kessel and Kadri looked very comfortable together, especially on the third Leafs goal:
Oct 31, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) passes the puck to center Nazem Kadri (43) who shoots the puck in for a goal against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Curtis McElhinney (30) during the third period at Nationwide Arena. The Leafs won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The advanced stats were not as impressive for the Leafs as they were against the Sabres. Their PDO was higher at 111.37 but their Corsi and Fenwick percentage dropped significantly (their Corsi percentage was 44% and their Fenwick percentage was 48%). Now I did not expect the Leafs to repeat their numbers from the Sabres game, but I did not think their numbers would drop off that much. Looking at the game sheet, the Leafs were out-shooting the Blue Jackets 25-18 going into the third period, so the Leafs Corsi and Fenwick percentages would have been higher.
The third period most likely changed those numbers, given the fact the Leafs were out-shot 11-2 in the third period. Randy Carlyle also limited Kessel and Kadri’s minutes in the third before their game against Chicago.
Oct 31, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov (47) gets a jab to the face by Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Nick Foligno (71) during a stop in play during the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
However, the Leafs should be concerned with the fact the rest of the team could not hold an injury depleted Columbus team in the third period with a three goal lead – it’s not like the Leafs have blown a three goal lead in the third period before (Whoops! I forgot…not really. Who can forget that game? Alright I’ll stop talking about it). Columbus still had Ryan Johansen, Jack Johnson, Cam Atkinson, Scott Hartnell, Nick Foligno and Ryan Murray in the game so the Leafs should have respected any comeback attempt by the Blue Jackets and I’m sure Randy Carlyle noticed that.
It was a good night for the Leafs, because the top line was able to produce against a better team and Clarkson scored his third goal of the season (any time Clarkson scores, it has to be a good game).
Quick Game Notes
Polak led the Leafs with 23:10 minutes.
Winnik, and Kessel led the Leafs with three points.
Leo Komarov led the team in hits with five. Polak led the Leafs in blocked shots with six.