The Toronto Maple Leafs (34-23-14) continued their hot play and dropped the Columbus Blue Jackets (47-19-6), 5-2, on Tuesday night. The win moves the Leafs into third place in the Atlantic Divison.
Thoughts and Observations
The Leafs set the tone early with their physical play, but the Blue Jackets came out of the first intermission with a purpose.Boone Jenner
set the tone for the second period when he crushedRoman Polak
into the boards to open the frame. His hit led to an offensive zone situation and from there they worked their potent high-low game, which gave the Leafs trouble all night. Here’s an example of the Jackets’ high-low game.
What a shot byWilliam Nylander
. It reminded me of a goalPhil Kessel
would score. Here’s another look:
Nylander finished the night with a goal and an assist and he extended his point streak to nine games. He now has points in 22 of his last 23 games and he also earned himself a nice bonus for scoring his 20th goal of the season.Nazem Kadri
hit the 30-goal mark for the first time in his career when he scored an insurance goal late in the third period to put the Leafs up 4-2. Given his play this season, it wouldn’t be farfetched to say that Kadri has become the Leafs most consistent veteran player. Babcock believes Kadri still has a long ways to go in his development, too.
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The Leafs are now 6-1-1 in their last eight games and they’ve collected five points against the Blackhawks, Bruins and Blue Jackets. Now, does that not sound like something a playoff team would do?
Stat of the Night
Roman Polak destroyed Oliver Bjorkstrand early in the third period and was given a five minute major for the hit. The Leafs killed off the penalty and held the Blue Jackets to only one shot, which came nearly four minutes into the PP.
However, the Blue Jackets had an extended power play because Babcock did not put anyone into the penalty box for Polak, therefore the Leafs had to play shorthanded for an extra 1:54. Babcock took responsibility for the error and let his guys know about it on the bench.
Regardless of Babcock’s blunder, the Leafs PK was phenomenal and Hunwick deserves a ton of credit for his effort.
The Maple Leafs will head back home to complete the second leg of their back-to-back when they host the New Jersey Devils (27-33-12) on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre. Andersen is expected to get the night off and backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney will start against the Devils.
New Jersey has lost 12 of their last 14 games and seven consecutive road contests. In other words, this a game where the Leafs need to take care of business and get in the win column.
What did you think of the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below