Blue Jackets-Maple Leafs Preview
The Toronto Maple Leafs have lost twice in overtime since the Olympic break, but they now get an opportunity to extend a streak that’s been on hold for over three weeks.
Playing in Toronto for the first time since Feb. 8, the Maple Leafs will try to push their season-best home win streak to eight Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Toronto (32-22-8) hasn’t strung together this many home victories since a nine-game run at the end of the 2006-07 season.
After Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss in Montreal, coach Randy Carlyle said he’d like to see some improvement on the road, where the team is 1-2-3 in its last six.
"We’re .500 on the road which, in this situation, isn’t great," Carlyle told the team’s official website. "We’d like to have won both hockey games in our minds, but this is the way it goes. We will regroup, practice (Sunday) and get ready for Columbus."
James van Riemsdyk scored twice and Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist against the Canadiens, but the Leafs weren’t able to reward themselves in overtime after coming back from a two-goal deficit in the first period.
"We showed a lot to come back," captain Dion Phaneuf said. "JVR made an unbelievable individual effort and Phil had a great shot, but our team overall, we fought back. We got a point. We’re disappointed we didn’t get another one, but we did a lot of good things."
Van Riemsdyk recorded five points in the two OT losses, giving him 13 over his last nine games, while Kessel has four straight two-point games and 17 in his last nine.
At the other end of the ice, Jonathan Bernier has allowed nine goals in the last two games after going the previous 13 without allowing more than three.
The Blue Jackets (30-25-5) are looking to gain ground in the Eastern Conference, and Toronto is one of the teams within reach (seven points). Columbus has won both meetings this season by a combined score of 11-2 and can now complete the regular-season sweep.
Ryan Johansen had two goals and an assist in a 6-0 win in Toronto on Nov. 25 that was one of two six-goal losses the Maple Leafs have suffered at home this season.
Columbus matched that offensive output Saturday in a 6-3 home win over Florida with six different goal-scorers and three assists from defenseman Jack Johnson. A 3-for-4 power play did half the damage after going 3 for 25 in the previous six games.
"We were more intense," coach Todd Richards told the team’s official website. "We shot the puck. There was a purpose in shooting it. Our identity and how we score goals on the power play is pretty simple. It’s get the puck to the net, find ways to get it to the net, and having traffic for deflections or rebounds."
The victory snapped a three-game winless streak as the Jackets prepare to play four of their next five on the road, where they’ve won only once in their last five.
Sergei Bobrovsky is 5-1-0 with a 1.84 goals-against average in his career against Toronto. He’s been in net for both wins this year.