Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2
John Tavares scored two goals and Garret Sparks made 27 saves as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 on Friday night.
Mitch Marner had a goal and assisted on both Tavares’ tallies. Frederik Gauthier also scored to power the Maple Leafs to their fifth straight win. Thus matching the longest streak of the season.
Nick Foligno and Artemi Panarin scored for Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 saves. The Blue Jackets, playing on the second night of a back-to-back, saw their five-game winning streak snapped as they try to stay close to Washington at the top of the Metropolitan Division.
Toronto took advantage of a power play early in the game. When Tavares deflected in a shot by Nazem Kadri from a slot. Foligno tied it up shortly afterward when he snapped a shot between Sparks’ pads from the right circle.
It would be all Maple Leafs from there.
Tavares got his second late in the first period with a shot from the left circle. That went top shelf over Bobrovsky’s glove. Giving Toronto a 2-1 lead.
Marner gave Toronto a two-goal lead halfway through the second on a 4-on-4. When he raced ahead of Pierre Luc-Dubois on a rush, took a beautiful pass from Auston Matthews and tapped it past Bobrovsky.
Late in the third, Par Lindholm shoveled the puck out from the back of the net to set up a finish by Gauthier. Panarin got his 100th NHL goal with 1:28 left in the game.
Columbus came up empty on a pair of power plays and has scored just once in 33 attempts with a man-advantage in the last 11 games.
Speaking after the game, Mike Babcock said: “I just thought we started well here tonight — probably better than I expected, to tell you the truth. It was nice to score early. Obviously, any time you can score, it puts you in a good situation.
“They answered back with one, but we kept playing pretty good. We got all four lines on the board there. Goat has done a good job; on a three-game scoring streak. That’s positive for the group. And we had good special teams.”
Tavares’ 26 goals lead the team. He has seven goals and four assists in his last six games. Toronto D Igor Ozhiganov returned after missing three games because of an illness.
Justin Holl was a healthy scratch to make room. Toronto F Patrick Marleau played in his 1,613th NHL game, giving him sole possession of 10th place on the all-time list. With an assist on Foligno’s goal, Seth Jones has 13 points in the last 15 games.
Babcock was also questioned about the possibility of resting Frederik Andersen. He said: “I say this every time you guys ask me this. I say the same thing. Hope is great, but I don’t know how it is going to go. I am going to do whatever I have to do to get ourselves into the playoffs.”
On the game vs. the Islanders tomorrow night and the potential for it to be emotionally charged with Tavares’ first game against NYI and the return of Leo Komarov and Matt Martin as members of the Islanders. Babcock continued: “I don’t know how emotional it will be for all of them, but for some of them, for sure. They’ve got guys on that team.
“I mean, Leo was a huge part of this team for a long time. Matt Martin did a really good job here looking after our guys. He was a really good teammate. When you go through it like that… John Tavares, for a lot of years, was the captain of that team and is proud of the time he put in there. The guys will want to play hard for John.”
Toronto hosts New York Islanders on Saturday.