The Toronto Maple Leafs are getting awfully good at this pick-your-poison game.
"I'm not sure", Leafs coach Mike Babcock said when asked about the change in the lineup. "They had jump and we didn't. And Freddie was outstanding". I didn't think at any time we were that good, but we battled hard and we found a way to get ourselves a win.
The Blue Jackets (29-24-4) recorded 50 or more shots in their third straight game, making them the first team to accomplish the feat in the post-expansion era (since 1967-68). Meanwhile, Columbus joined the 1955-56 Chicago Blackhawks as the only National Hockey League team to ever fire 50 or more shots on net in three straight games. They were up 66-41 in shot attempts.
Kadri cut around Korpisalo before using a screen to make it 2-0 at 7:36, but the Blue Jackets pulled within one when Foligno received a centering pass from Alexander Wennberg and fired a backhander by Andersen with 1:39 left. "They hit something and bounce somewhere, you can't control it". Even then he still only made 53 stops.
"We were prepared for that, they've been throwing a lot of pucks on the net the last few games", said Andersen.
"That's when it's the most fun, when we're generating offensively", said Kadri. "It wasn't the prettiest game but we found a way to win". Babcock said Gardiner had "some sort of lower body thing, some kind of spasm". The rest of Toronto's blueliners played almost 20 minutes or more in his absence, making Andersen's strong night all the more timely while his blueliners were fighting fatigue. "You move them around and, once in a while, you get lucky and you can tell everyone how smart you are". So we went back to what had worked.
"Mitch and Naz and Marleau had it on a string, and they scored enough that the rest of us were allowed to leave with a win". We thought it would be good, but it just didn't work. On Wednesday, they were the only dangerous-looking forward line Toronto had, earning a decent measure of zone time and capitalizing on their chances. It was Kadri's fourth career hat trick, and the five points set a career high.
However, Kadri's line struck back with Kadri's 19th and 20th goals of the season to restore the two-goal lead. Komarov and Kadri collected assists. Oliver Bjorkstrand and Pierre-Luc Dubois scored power-play goals in the second to give the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders. "I used them together past year and they were no good together". Marleau took a little more time to get his scoring touch back, but has now registered four points in three games.
"My linemates contributed just as much as I did", Kadri said.
Dominic Moore had the other Leaf goal. Moore didn't get on the ice until almost five minutes in.
It was Kadri's first three-goal game at the ACC, after his first three hat tricks were on the road. "He's going against the best players every night". Marleau also picked up an assist at 10:17.
The victory was the fifth straight for the Maple Leafs and sixth straight at home.
Frederik Andersen made a career-high 54 saves for the Maple Leafs (35-19-5), who went 5-0-0 on their homestand. The Coyotes' six goals were their highest total of the season. Of the Leafs' final 22 games, 12 of them will be in Toronto.