Johnny Gaudreau scores in overtime as Blue Jackets rally past Maple Leafs 6-5

Updated Dec. 29, 2023 11:23 p.m. ET

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Columbus Blue Jackets kept fighting back — all the way to Johnny Gaudreau's game-winning goal.

Gaudreau scored 2:56 into overtime, and the Blue Jackets beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-5 on Friday to stop a three-game slide.

Gaudreau tapped the puck past diving Toronto goalie Ilya Samsonov. His seventh goal of the season provided the Blue Jackets' only lead of the night.

“We’ve been in the opposite position going into the third and found a way to lose them recently, and sort of all year," said defenseman Erik Gudbranson, whose second-period fight with Simon Benoit fired up the crowd. "To have it the other way around and come back against a good hockey team and beat them in overtime is really nice.”


Columbus rookie Adam Fantilli tied it at 5 with 6:14 left in regulation. It was the 10th goal of the season for the 19-year-old forward.

Cole Sillinger, Brendan Gaunce, Dmitri Voronkov and Kent Johnson also scored for Columbus.

Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins stopped 14 of 16 shots before leaving after the first period because of an illness. Spencer Martin had 16 stops the rest of the way.

Auston Matthews scored his NHL-leading 29th goal and had an assist for Toronto. Samsonov made 15 stops, but he has allowed 21 goals in losing his last four starts.

“Play that game over 100 times, we probably win it 99 times, but you can’t make those kind of mistakes with the goaltending,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said.

Mitch Marner and William Nylander each had a goal and an assist for Toronto, and Nicholas Robertson and John Tavares also scored. Morgan Rielly had three assists.

Early in the first period, a shot by Rielly bounced off the skate of the Jackets’ Jake Bean to set up an easy tip-in by Marner.

Sillinger tied it with a rocket from the high slot that beat Samsonov. Toronto got the lead back on Matthews’ shot from the right circle.

Robertson deflected a puck past Martin early in the wild second period. Gaunce’s first goal of the season got the deficit back to one, but Nylander extended his point streak to 13 games with a power-play goal that made it 4-2 at 9:42.

Columbus then scored two goals 1:39 apart. Voronkov deflected in Gaudreau’s shot on a power play, and Johnson tied it with a tip-in with 7:17 left in the second.

Tavares put the Maple Leafs up 5-4 on a power play with 55 seconds left in the second. Fantilli's shot from the left circle tied it again in the third.

“We got better as the game went on,” Columbus coach Pascal Vincent said. “I thought in the third we were playing our style and intensity we need. In the third, we were a good team.”

The Blue Jackets played without defenseman Zach Werenski, who was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury after he got hurt during Wednesday's 4-3 loss at New Jersey. The defenseman is considered week to week.

Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano returned after missing 12 games with a broken thumb.


Maple Leafs: Host Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

Blue Jackets: At Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.


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