The Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs met for the second time in five days, this time at Nationwide Arena on Friday evening. After a 4-2 loss in Toronto on Monday night, the CBJ had all week to think about what needed to change heading into their second matchup in Columbus.
Despite the Blue Jackets coming out and fighting the puck right from the get-go, as Head Coach John Tortorella put it, it was the Jackets who were able to get on the scoreboard first. Josh Anderson, to be exact.
Anderson, who entered Friday’s contest tied for third on the club with eight goals, lit the lamp twice in the first period, scoring at both the 3:55 and 9:57 marks of the game. With the pair of goals, Anderson became the third CBJ skater of the season to reach double digits in that category.
The first and second periods, for the most part, were controlled by the Maple Leafs. Ron Hainsey got a puck past Sergei Bobrovsky with 3:44 left in the first period to cut the Toronto deficit to one goal heading into the first intermission, then Kasperi Kapanen scored less than three minutes into the second period to tie the game up at 2-2.
After the game, Tortorella commented on the play of Bobrovsky, who stopped 32 of 34 shots sent his way, saying:
He made some key saves at key times…he gave us a chance to stay in the game and gave us a chance to take the lead.
Following two failed power-play attempts by the CBJ and an Artemi Panarin tripping penalty to give the Leafs a man advantage of their own, things weren’t exactly looking up for the home team late in the second period.
With 3:46 remaining in the period, however, Cam Atkinson turned the tide of the game, scoring a shorthanded goal to give the Jackets a 3-2 lead.
Tortorella spoke with the media about the resilience of his team leading up to the Atkinson goal, saying:
We stayed with it, got a couple of timely saves from Bob, our penalty killing certainly helped out, Cam scores a great goal…no matter how bad it was, just fighting everything, it was still 2-2, so we just tried to find our game.
As DMX blared through the speakers at Nationwide Arena heading into the third period, the CBJ did what they needed to do to keep the Maple Leafs out of the net and secure the victory. Markus Hannikainen chipped a puck past Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen early in the period to top off the scoring. After 60 minutes, the scoreboard read CBJ 4, Toronto 2.
John Tortorella praised the way his team played in the third period, commenting:
I thought we played better in the third. We didn’t get frustrated, we just tried to stay with it and found a way to win.
He also tied these last two games together, discussing the fate of his team on both nights considering the way they played, saying:
I think they find a way to win where I think we’re the better team in Toronto. I think they’re the better team tonight and we find a way to win.
It wasn’t the prettiest two points for the CBJ, but at the end of the season they’ll count just as much as any others. The 13-7-2 Blue Jackets will hit the road to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night at PPG Paints Arena in a key Metropolitan Division showdown.