A week ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets were sinking fast.
Now they are on a roll.
Brandon Dubinsky keyed a four-goal surge in the third period with a short-handed tally, and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky did the rest as the Blue Jackets beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Friday night.
"It obviously was a huge goal," Columbus coach Todd Richards said of Dubinsky’s wicked wrist shot from the right dot that put the Blue Jackets ahead 3-1. "It was a huge plus for us.
"On the other end of it, on the Toronto bench, they’re sitting on a 4-on-3 situation, so they’re thinking they’re going to tie the game. To give up a shortie, that’s a tough one to recover from."
Instead, Dubinsky — the Blue Jackets’ unofficial captain in the absence of a designated leader — streaked up the right wing, took a glance at teammate Mark Letestu during a 2-on-1 break, and rocketed a shot that beat goalie Jonathan Bernier.
Dubinsky, who also had an assist, was acquired in the blockbuster deal that sent Rick Nash to the New York Rangers, 18 months ago.
"I just grabbed the puck and went," he said. "I knew (Toronto defenseman Dion) Phaneuf broke his stick, plus there’s more ice in a 4-on-3 situation. I just tried to get up the ice. (Letestu) did a good job of drawing guys, and it gave me a lane to fire the puck."
Dubinsky’s goal led to a wild final few minutes.
Dave Bolland scored for the Maple Leafs with 4:30 remaining to narrow the lead to a goal. Bobrovsky, last season’s Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goalie, made several of his 23 saves to keep Toronto at bay.
Then the Blue Jackets’ offense — which hadn’t scored more than four goals in a game this season — took over.
Ryan Johansen scored an empty-netter in the final minute, and Nick Foligno, who also had an assist, added another goal in the closing seconds.
"I’m so proud of the way we came back," Foligno said of the Blue Jackets’ three-game, home-winning streak after they lost four in a row. "I know the guys were not in low spirits but disappointed after that road swing. We needed to get off on the right foot here on this homestand. We seem to have done that. We seem to have gotten our confidence back."
Earlier in the period, Marian Gaborik scored his fifth goal to give the Blue Jackets the lead for good. Rookie defenseman Ryan Murray, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, had opened the scoring by notching his first career goal for the Blue Jackets.
After David Clarkson, making his debut for the Maple Leafs, was sent off for hooking, Murray got some rare power-play time. James Wisniewski blistered a shot from the top of the left circle that R.J. Umberger tried to redirect. The puck glanced off defenseman Paul Ranger and to the post with Murray closing fast from the wing to jam it in.
"It’s just real exciting," Murray said. "It’s good to get it out of the way. It was definitely a gift sitting there on the doorstep for me, but I’ll definitely take it."
After Phil Kessel evened things in the opening minute of the second period with his sixth goal, the Blue Jackets took a 2-1 lead 3:12 into the third. Foligno won a battle for the puck with Bolland on the back wall and then fed Gaborik for a quick shot that beat Bernier on the stick side and just inside the near post.
Toronto coach Randy Carlyle was less than pleased with the finish.
"Our third period wasn’t something I would say we’d be proud of," he said.
Clarkson, an offseason free-agent signing, played his first game in a Leafs sweater after being suspended for the first 10 games for leaving the bench to join a fight during a preseason game against Buffalo.
"I felt like on the forecheck my jump was OK. But it’s all about winning now," he said. "It doesn’t matter how anyone feels. We have to find a way to win, and to be better than that."
NOTES: Toronto LW Joffrey Lupul didn’t play after sustaining a bone bruise when he was struck by a shot Thursday during practice. … Columbus played its third of a four-game homestand. It had won the first two games by a combined score of 7-2. … The Maple Leafs’ four losses this season have come to franchises that begin with the letter C: Colorado, Carolina, Chicago and Columbus. … The Blue Jackets have scored a power-play goal in seven of their first 10 games. … The last time the Blue Jackets beat the Maple Leafs was Dec. 30, 2010, in Toronto, by a 3-2 score.