Bernier stops 28 shots to lift Maple Leafs past Blue Jackets
The Toronto Maple Leafs found out less than an hour before the start of their game Friday night in Columbus that forward Joffrey Lupul would be out indefinitely after breaking his right hand in a fall at practice the day before.
They didn’t seem to miss him.
Daniel Winnik and Phil Kessel each had a goal and two assists, and Jonathan Bernier made 28 saves to lead the Leafs past the injury-riddled Blue Jackets 4-1.
"It was kind of a surprise to everyone that it was actually broken," coach Randy Carlyle said. "But then the game goes on. That’s what you have to do. Tonight we found a way to get the job done. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective."
Nazem Kadri added a goal and an assist and David Clarkson also scored for the Maple Leafs, who are 3-0-1 on the road and 2-4-0 at home.
"It’s fun to see back-to-back games with a great effort," Bernier said, referring also to his 4-0 shutout victory over Buffalo on Tuesday. "Maybe the only thing we were missing a little bit is just the compete level — taking it a notch up. We had that in the last two."
Kessel punched in a shot that went to video review before it was confirmed. Clarkson redirected a pass from Dion Phaneuf on the power play, and Kadri finished a 2-on-1 feed from Kessel in the third. Winnik scored his 50th NHL goal late in his 500th career game.
"If you wanted to write up how a 500th game is supposed to go, tonight is (it)," Winnik said.
After a 10-minute review, Kessel was awarded his goal in the first.
He was at the left doorstep after shots by Winnik and Kadri were deflected by goalie Curtis McElhenny. Kessel’s shot off a rebound was deflected off the right skate of Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin, who had come in behind McElhenny. The review showed the puck briefly crossed the goal line before ricocheting out off Tyutin’s blade.
A large contingent of Toronto fans in the crowd of 14,479 chanted "Let’s go, Leafs!" several times during the game.
Shortly after Columbus’ Jack Johnson — also playing his 500th game — went off for interference, Phaneuf’s drive from the point was redirected by Clarkson for his third of the season. Clarkson had his stick straight out at waist height and deflected the puck down and past a helpless McElhenny.
Kessel then carried the puck down the right wing early in the third, making a late feed behind the defenseman for a jam shot by Kadri.
"It’s nice to get some puck luck and a couple of bounces here and there," Kadri said. "That’s what happens when you play the right way and you stay with it."
Cam Atkinson scored and Ryan Johansen had an assist to set a Columbus record with his 10-game point streak to start the season. It was the fourth loss in a row for the Blue Jackets.
Bernier lost his shutout midway through the third period when he stopped Johansen’s drive from the right circle but lost track of the puck, which was underneath him. Atkinson chopped it into the net for his fifth goal.
The Blue Jackets have been hurt by a scourge of injuries. They were without eight players, including forwards Nathan Horton (back), Boone Jenner (broken hand), Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal surgery), Matt Calvert (upper body), Artem Anisimov (concussion), Mark Letestu (groin), goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (broken finger) and top offensive defenseman James Wisniewski (broken finger).
"For guys being called up and the second, third and fourth lines being jumped around a little bit, it’s tough for them," Johansen said. "It’s not easy adjusting to different players all the time. But we’ve got to find a way to make it work."
NOTES: Blue Jackets LW Nick Foligno, just back from missing one game after injuring his neck in a collision with an official, celebrated his 27th birthday. … The Maple Leafs’ James van Riemsdyk stayed down on the ice after Jared Boll rolled over his legs late in the second, then returned for the third.