Leafs Begin Five-Game Road Swing with a Loss

Columbus (4) Toronto (2) Final

By: Gordon Brown

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Toronto and Columbus each entered Wednesday following polar opposite outcomes on their schedule. The Blue Jackets fell victim to a gruesome 7-2 loss while the Maple Leafs trampled the Hurricanes en route to an 8-1 victory home ice in the Next Century Game.

While Mitch Marner excelled with four points in the matchup, Willam Nylander also posted a long-awaited goal to kick-start his offensive touch.

Despite their recent outburst, momentum from an explosive victory evidently didn’t carry over for the Maple Leafs as Columbus jumped out to an early 2-0 lead — with two blasts of their signature cannon to prove it.

Both Connor Carrick and Jake Gardiner found themselves out of position in the opening frame as Lukas Sedlak recorded his 4th goal of the season. Matt Calvert connected with the eventual goal scorer to give the Jackets an early lead and

Seth Jones managed to extend his team’s stranglehold with an unassisted goal towards the end of the period. The damage was done as soon as Jones found himself two-on-one with Cam Atkinson at his side, leaving Toronto’s defense scrambled out of position. Jones slipped a quick shot past Curtis McElhinney to make it 3-1.

The Buds bursted out of intermission and began the second on a high note, scoring just 4:26 into the period.

Toronto entered the offensive zone with a vengeance led by William Nylander, who presented a cross-ice feed to a shot-friendly Jake Gardiner. The 27-year-old rearguard managed to beat Joonas Korpisalo with a clean wrist shot upstairs in an attempt to swing the momentum.

Pierre-Luc Dubois went on to erase the goal and restore Columbus’ two-goal advantage on the power play later in the frame. Seth Jones found the stats sheet once again to facilitate an insurance goal for his team’s lead.

Columbus added to the onslaught of goals as the third period rolled around, with Alexander Weinberg notching his 4th of the season. Curtis McElhinney was left to fend for himself as the Blue Jackets dominated possession.

Mitch Marner later extended his personal heroics to make it a 4-2 game late in the third period. Magic Mitch received the puck in his own zone before weaving through opposing defenders and scoring an end-to-end goal — eerily similar to the one he scored just one day prior.

A last-gasp comeback would prove ineffective as Columbus managed to hold on for a decisive victory.

Despite a lopsided 4-2 loss, the Buds will look to continue their road trip with a complete effort in New York this coming Saturday against the Rangers. There is a definite possibility Auston Matthews makes his much-anticipated return to the lineup!

Puck drop is set at 7 p.m. EST.

Feel free to drop me a comment or suggestion:

E-mail - gordon@BarnBurner.ca

On Twitter - @GordBrown_

Photo Credit: @MapleLeafs