Blue Jackets look to avenge Monday loss to Maple Leafs
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Blue Jackets left Toronto on Monday night disappointed with the outcome of what they felt was a winnable road game.
The Blue Jackets led 2-0 after one period, but several defensive mistakes cost them, and the Maple Leafs rallied for a 4-2 victory that ended Columbus’ three-game winning streak and a seven-game point streak.
Four days later, the Blue Jackets (12-7-2) will have an opportunity to right their wrongs when the two teams face off in a rematch on Friday night at Nationwide Arena.
Toronto comes in one point behind first-place Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division and the Blue Jackets are tied atop the Metropolitan Division with the New York Rangers.
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella was clearly perturbed with the manner in which his team lost in Toronto. A defensive mistake on a faceoff left Toronto’s Morgan Rielly open on the left point and he buried the winning goal.
“We played well enough to win,” Tortorella said, “and not to get a point out of it off just a simple coverage off a faceoff, it just (ticks) you off.
“It’s pee-wee coverage and we didn’t handle it. It’s frustrating.”
The Maple Leafs (15-7-0) played a game between the two against the Blue Jackets, falling 5-2 on Wednesday night to the Carolina Hurricanes. Toronto had won four straight and nine of its last 10 on the road.
Tavares leads the Maple Leafs with 14 goals in his first season with the team and Mitch Marner has team bests of 22 assists and 28 points.
As the Maple Leafs did against the Blue Jackets, they fell behind the Hurricanes in the first period, but this time they weren’t able to catch up.
“Bottom line is we didn’t get what we wanted here,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock told reporters “Ideally, it’s a good lesson for all of us. If we’re not prepared, we have no chance at success, and we’ll move on.”
Atkinson contributed a goal and an assist in the loss to the Maple Leafs, extending his goal and point streaks to a career-best five games with the first score of the game.
In the past five games, Atkinson has racked up seven goals three assists for 10 points. Named the NHL’s First Star of the Week, Atkinson is now tied with Artemi Panarin for the team points lead with 22.
“I’m putting myself in good positions,” Atkinson told The Columbus Dispatch. “I think that’s plain and simple. My linemates are making good passes and I’m just burying them.”
Linemate Pierre-Luc Dubois has 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points, and Panarin has four assists in the past two games.
“We’re just playing confident,” Atkinson said. “We know where each other is going to be on the ice, in the offensive zone especially, and we’re working off each other. We’re close to each other, supporting each other, and I think that makes a really big difference for us.”