In order to slow down the high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs, a total team effort and commitment to all three zones is the first and foremost requirement. The Blue Jackets, starting a pivotal stretch in their schedule, got that tonight at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
They were in shooting lanes, clogging the slot and making life difficult on the Maple Leafs forwards all night long, and got a pair of second-period goals to support Sergei Bobrovsky in a huge 2-1 victory. Bobrovsky, who struggled at times during his first two starts after the Olympics, was spectacular on this night and kept things cool in the Columbus end of the rink. He made 28 saves - 11 of those coming in the third period - and was only beaten by a rocket slap shot from Mason Raymond with just under five minutes to play.
But it was the second period, a frame that's bitten the Jackets at times this season, that fueled them to two points tonight.
A long shift in the Toronto zone allowed the Jackets to out-change the Leafs, and Derek MacKenzie found the puck low in the zone and fed it up top to Dalton Prout at the right point. A wired slapper through traffic beat James Reimer far side and put the Jackets in front, but the second goal was equally impressive.
For the most part, the Blue Jackets managed the game efficiently and only gave the Leafs two power play chances - both coming in the first period. The one lowlight for Columbus was an injury to Ryan Murray in the first period; Richards updated post-game and said he doesn't believe the injury to be serious, but that Murray could miss some time.
The Anisimov tally proved to be the game-winner, but Prout's goal was an emphatic ending to a prolonged shift in the Toronto zone. MacKenzie and Letestu did the grunt work down low, and Prout's shot through a heavy screen in front gave Columbus a 1-0 edge and helped them settle into the game.
1. SERGEI BOBROVSKY (CBJ)
A solid night of work for Bob tonight, who had to be good early after a good start by the Leafs and also in the third period. He's got two wins in three games out of the Olympic break.
2. NIKITA NIKITIN (CBJ)
One of his best performances of the season without question. Nikitin played 21:32, took four shots on goal and was a +1 on a Jackets' blueline that played most of the game with five defensemen.
3. JAMES REIMER (TOR)
He was the only reason the Leafs weren't down by more than two entering the third period. Reimer finished with 31 saves and was under siege at times in the game.
VS. DALLAS STARS
TUESDAY, 7 P.M.
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